Legalised abortion enters Ireland’s statute books after presidential sign-off

Abortion has officially become legal in the Republic of Ireland after president Michael D Higgins signed new legislation into law.

Terminations will be available across from the state from January 2019.

A bill to legalise abortions in Ireland passed through all its parliamentary stages earlier this month.

Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins

President Higgins signed the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 on Thursday and it has accordingly become law.

The new laws will allow for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to a cooling-off period and a requirement for medical consultation.

After 12 weeks, abortions will be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

The legislation will give effect to the result of a referendum in May.

The poll delivered landslide support for the repeal of a section of the state’s constitution – the Eight Amendment – that provided the legal basis for the country’s near blanket ban on abortion.

Last month Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the passage of the bill through the houses of the Oireachtas parliament “as a genuinely historic moment”.