Irish government approves abortion referendum bill

Irish government approves abortion referendum bill

Health minister Simon Harris said if people vote no on the issue, it will be impossible for the government to address issues around female healthcare in Ireland.

The government introduced legislation yesterday to allow for a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment and published a policy paper detailing plans to allow abortion up to twelve weeks' gestation. Global Positioning System and other health practitioners will be licensed to prescribe the abortion pill.

As the Irish parliament began to debate a referendum bill, the bishops called on Catholics to "work actively" to resist change.

Minister Harris said this regime would "represent a quantum leap from our position" today where we have one of the most restrictive regimes - similar to Saudi Arabia.

Currently, terminations are only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. Mr Harris announced that he has asked the Chief Medical Officer to look into the feasibility, and in particular the cost, of a State-run contraception service. The referendum, slated for the end of May, will be putting a possible repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish people.

It is generally in line with the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas committee which proposed allowing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks, although the document will use different wording.

More news: Senate joins Rep to pass NFIU bill

Mr Harris said this brief period of time would allow women to consider of all of the options before making an informed decision.

The initial judgment related to an immigration case in which a Nigerian man sought to revoke a 2008 deportation order in proceedings initiated eight years later on the basis that his Irish partner was at that time pregnant with their child.

Fianna Fáil's Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher believes the current laws are unfair.

Explaining the ruling, barrister Paul Anthony McDermott told RTÉ's Morning Ireland: "What the Supreme Court has said in a nutshell is that other than the right to life, all your constitutional rights start at birth".

Speaking outside Leinster House, Harris said it was appropriate that this decision was taken on International Women's Day, and that he would campaign enthusiastically in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.

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