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Fast-track legislation but no abortions until December



Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath

The final two days of the Dáil term are to be set aside for TDs to debate legislation that will formally allow for the introduction of abortion.

Attorney General Séamus Woulfe's office has set a deadline of six weeks for drawing up laws based on the proposal presented to the public before last Friday's referendum.

However, it is not excepted that the first legal abortion will actually take place in Ireland until December or January.


Health Minister Simon Harris is now expected to bring new laws to the Dáil on July 10 and 11, just as TDs rise for their summer break.

It is hoped that, given the lengthy debate which has already taken place, it will be possible to quickly pass the legislation over to the Oireachtas Health Committee. The committee will sit over the summer months to tease through the details.

Sources say this would allow the Dáil to formally approve an abortion regime in early September.

"That means that even if we have a general election in the autumn the legislation will be passed. The other preparatory work can continue outside of the political realm regardless of who is in power," a government source said.

Key to that work will be the compilation of clinical guidelines for GPs.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority will work to source appropriate pills for use in the Irish health system.

GPs have already indicated that they want assurances around the resources that will be in place for them to operate the regime.

Mr Harris will seek Cabinet approval for the new timelines when ministers meet this morning. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has already indicated that he supports the idea of holding Dáil sittings over the summer period if necessary.

Meanwhile, Employment Minister Regina Doherty said she believes the "vast majority" of doctors will deliver the service women require despite some having a "conscientious objection" to the referendum result.


Irish Independent

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