Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Sport | By Tony Jimenez

Government to Set Out 'Quantum Leap' Abortion Reform

Government to Set Out 'Quantum Leap' Abortion Reform

The Department of Health states: "This paper outlines policies which the Government decided it would seek to give effect to in a General Scheme of a Bill regulating termination of pregnancy in Ireland should the proposed referendum be passed".

The minister kicked off the Dail debate on the abortion referendum yesterday, making the final steps before a vote on whether or not to keep the Eighth Amendment, to take place at the end of May.

"I think what the Supreme Court did was it showed how lucky we are to have the Eighth Amendment".

"This is a historic and momentous day for Ireland, and for the women of Ireland, in particular", said Ailbhe Smyth, convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Simon Harris introduced the referendum bill in the Dáil earlier, and in a speech he argued there needs to take a "quantum leap" forward on abortion. Today is a significant milestone for the tens of thousands of supporters who have been campaigning for decades to remove the Eighth from the Constitution for once and for all.

Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the referendum was about asking citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves.

The minister has established a group, under the chairmanship of the chief medical officer, to address the recommendations and formulate "an effective and comprehensive response" to the issues raised by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

The decision cleared the way for the referendum in a country where terminations are only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk.

"The minute an Irish woman becomes pregnant, she no longer has destiny over her own health care", Mr Kelleher said.

Under the current law, an unborn foetus has an equal right to life to the woman carrying it, meaning abortions are banned in all cases except where the woman's life is at risk.

The Taoiseach added: 'Above all it's about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will'.

The minister said that he will return to those issues in the coming weeks and will be seeking approval for a series of measures to further support women and improve access to counselling, contraception and perinatal care.

However, he made the point that legislation to follow but that remains "academic and hypothetical" until the amendment is actually repealed.

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