The Government has today approved two new policies in the legislation which will provide for the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy in Ireland.
Following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment in May, Minister for Health Simon Harris has secured approval from Cabinet Minister on the overall legislation on abortions.
The law will allow women to have abortions in Ireland up to 12 weeks’ gestation and in certain cases thereafter from 12-24 weeks.
The legislation has been updated to ensure that cost is not a barrier for women to access abortions, which will be ‘provided on a universal basis’.
Minister Harris has also added the provision of safe access zones to the legislation, which are “areas around premises where abortion services are provided where patients and staff can go without fear of intimidation or harassment, and without being subjected to posters or protests.”
The bill was intended to be brought before the Dail ahead of the summer recess, but ongoing court proceedings have delayed this progress.
Minister Harris said “Until the Court proceedings have concluded and the referendum result is confirmed it will not be possible to introduce this legislation into the Oireachtas. However, work continues on preparations for the introduction of this health service – including the development of clinical guidelines. It is the Government’s intention to make this health service available in Ireland in January 2019.”
The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) has welcomed today’s developments in Cabinet on universal access to terminations.
Spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said: “If abortion services are only available through private health care providers or at a restrictive cost, women of lower socio-economic means will be unable to access them. It would also be prohibitive for people who do not have access to their own finances – for example those in abusive relationships or living in direct provision. Removing cost barriers also allows people to access abortions earlier. Abortion care should be provided as a government-funded public health service.”
Ms Kavanagh added: “We also welcome safe access zones as a policy under this legislation. Accessible abortion must include healthcare free from stigma, shame, and fear. The 10 people a day who travel to the UK currently are only too aware of the distress that anti-choice protestors can cause outside clinics. We all expect privacy, dignity, and safety in our healthcare and this must include abortion access.”