THE prospect of women facing up to 14 years in prison for buying abortion pills over the internet is expected to be one of the key topics for discussion at the Oireachtas abortion hearings today.
The Government's abortion bill includes a maximum 14-year prison sentence for women who have an abortion outside the guidelines of the legislation.
Although the controversial issue of allowing the threat of suicide as a ground for abortion is expected to dominate again, other issues such as the proposed legislation's criminal sanctions will also be highlighted.
Dr Peadar O Grady, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the HSE, will be among the witnesses before the Oireachtas Health Committee today, for the second of three days of hearings.
"The prospect of prosecuting children and their parents or those carrying out home abortions with medication bought over the internet is very concerning," he said.
"This will encourage secrecy, terror and desperation and increase risk in vulnerable patients. Criminal sanction should be removed from the bill."
The hearing today will be also be addressed by psychiatrists who have widely opposing views on whether abortion should be offered to a pregnant and suicidal woman who wants a termination.