Government to Set Out 'Quantum Leap' Abortion Reform

Government to Set Out 'Quantum Leap' Abortion Reform

Speaking in the Dáil today, Minister for Health Simon Harris called the job of legislating for abortion "serious and challenging".

It's very appropriate and fitting that on this day the Irish Government has taken a decision that we will have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and that we will have finalised the wording for that referendum. Global Positioning System and other health practitioners will be licensed to prescribe the abortion pill.

It will say there should be abortion without specific indication for up to 12 weeks - meaning abortion will be allowed for any reason within the first trimester.

Saturday's rally follows on the heels of a march by abortion rights protesters on Thursday, marking International Women's Day-the same day cabinet passed a bill making it possible for the referendum to go ahead.

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.

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Ireland's health minister, Simon Harris, said on Friday that a yes vote in May would represent a "quantum leap from our position today, where have one of the most restrictive regimes, similar to Saudi Arabia".

Mr Harris said he is now proposing to introduce a time period that is required to elapse between the assessment by a medical practitioners and the procedure being carried out.

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.

Fianna Fail's health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that Irish women were being treated as second class citizens and it could no longer continue.

"It's about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families", Mr Varadkar said.

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He added: "The first thing we have to do, if we are to bring about change, is to repeal Article 40.3.3".

The move comes after a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that protections for the unborn child offered under the state's constitution do not extend beyond the right to life.

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

The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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