MINISTER Simon Coveney has accused critics of the proposed abortion legislation of putting forward arguments that are not based on fact.
As the Cabinet gathered at 8am today for a special meeting Coveney said that the new abortion law will merely "tighten up" on medical practice that has already been in existence in Ireland for many years.
Responding to severe criticism of the proposed legislation by Irish bishops, the Fine Gael politician said that the clergy are "entitled to have their view".
But he said that some of the criticism surrounding the measures "is not based actually on fact".
"I think the important thing is to focus on what's actually in the legislation rather than the perception around it. And I think sometimes the criticism that we're hearing is not based actually on fact, in terms of what's actually being proposed," the minister said.
"What's being proposed here is actually a tightening up of the status quo in terms of the conditions and restrictions around the very difficult decision that a doctor and a mother might have to make if a mother's life is under threat, while pregnant," he added.
Mr Coveney was speaking as the cabinet held a special meeting in a bid to finalise the proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Spokespersons for both Fine Gael and Labour have said that "political agreement" was reached on Monday between Health Minister James Reilly and his junior counterpart, Alex White, over what exactly should be contained in the bill.
However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Herald this morning that the Government's priority is "saving lives".
"Everybody's entitled to have their opinion. But remember this, the law that permits up to approximately 30 terminations of pregnancies last year is the same law that will apply," he added.