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Cabinet strikes a six-doctors abortion deal

A SUICIDAL pregnant woman will face three doctors before being granted an abortion – but this figure could rise to six on appeal, draft legislation says.

The Cabinet finally reached agreement last night on the wording of the Protection of Maternal Life Bill 2013 after the controversial issue was kicked into touch several times.



The draft legislation identifies that a panel of three medics will decide if an abortion is appropriate where there is a threat of suicide.

The panel's decision must be unanimous for an abortion to proceed. If it's not and the woman appeals to the review panel, another three consultants will decide the case.

Their decision must also be unanimous if the woman is to be allowed a termination.

Ministers met on two occasions yesterday to debate the heads of bill.

Deliberations at the second meeting, which started at 5.30pm, continued until just before 8pm.

The major sticking point for Fine Gael prior to the publication of the draft legislation has been the question of abortion in the case of suicide ideation.

Late last week, up to nine Fine Gael TDs stated their objection to legislation that would allow for abortion on the grounds of suicide.

The rebel TDs, which included Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton and Dublin South TD Peter Mathews, identified that they were firmly opposed to this particular issue.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny dismissed reports that there was a serious rift among ministers over the wording of legislation as the weekly meeting was adjourned shortly before Leaders' Questions began in the Dail.

"There is never a problem with this Government," he said. "We will face into it and deal with it as you expect us to do."

And it is understood that Minister for Health James Reilly did not provide his colleagues with any preview of the documents before the meeting.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that the publication of the legislation was taking time because there was "intensive lobbying".