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Saturday 19 October 2019

Cases of fatal foetal abnormality set for €5,000 support

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Women whose babies are diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities could receive up to €5,000 to pay for costs associated with having an abortion aboard.

Health Minister Simon Harris is examining the possibility of introducing the measure while the Government is in the process of enacting new abortion laws. Mr Harris asked health officials to examine the legality of such a payment ahead of a meeting with the Termination for Medical Reasons (TFMR) campaign group.

The organisation has been campaigning for abortions to be carried out in Ireland due to the experience of couples forced to travel abroad for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Mr Harris offered no firm commitment to TRMR on financial support, but the payment scheme is being actively considered. Before the meeting, Mr Harris said fatal foetal abnormality cases helped form his own views on abortion.

He told TV3: "I am looking to see if we can provide financial support or assistance to that group in the short-term."

He added: "Every week about two to three women ... leave this country on the grounds of fatal foetal abnormality."

There have also been calls for a 1995 ban on doctors referring women seeking an abortion to be lifted and for terminations to be decriminalised in advance of the main change in the law.

The Government has warned that such measures could delay the overall legislation, but Mr Harris is to update on any proposals in two weeks' time.

Irish Independent

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