Abortion legislation introduced into Ireland’s parliament

Irish politicians have praised legislation to allow abortion services in Ireland after the health minister introduced the bill into parliament.

Simon Harris said that TDs are making history as he introduced the Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in the Dail.

The bill, which seeks to legalise abortion services in Ireland, has been hailed as “historic and important”.

The Irish electorate voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment in May’s referendum, with just under 67% voting in favour of repeal.

Donegal was the only constituency to vote against the proposal.

Mr Harris told the Dail: “On May 25th, the Irish people gave us a very clear message to legislate for the introduction of abortion services in this country.

“Today we begin the job they have given us, of making the law that follows the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and after 35 years in our constitution, in doing so, we are also making history.

“Of course, history is not made only in this House. This history was made on streets, in homes and in ballot boxes across this country.”

The health minister said the referendum was a “resounding affirmation of respect and support for women” and their right to make choices about their lives.

“It was a reaffirmation of the primacy of equality in our modern democracy. And it was a call on us all to do more. On women’s health. On women’s equality.

“On continuing to shape an inclusive and more equal society.”

The minister said he was determined to begin a new chapter on women’s health, in which they are valued and decisions are respected “without judgment”.

He took the Dail through the ill’s sections which is divided into three parts.

Fianna Fail’s health spokesman Stephen Donnelly told the Dail that the government should remove costs associated with maternity care as it is providing freely available abortion services to women.

Mr Donnelly also said he disagreed with some elements of the bill, including the three-day waiting period.

“It is my view that when the people voted to repeal the eighth amendment, they did so with a clear understanding that the legislation following it would reflect the heads of the bill published in March,” he said.

Sinn Fein TD and the party’s health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said that the legislation will go down in the history of that State as one of the most important.

She added however that she was “shocked” to see offences and criminal sanctions moved to section five of the bill which she said was not “the appropriate place”.

Ruth Coppinger, People Before Profit TD, said: “It’s been a huge achievement to win legislation that’s on a par with countries and international norms. Even up until a year ago, the type of legislation that was being discussed in this country was of a very restrictive nature.

“It was talking about where life was at risk for fatal foetal abnormality and rape and no other grounds were even being countenanced and that is the reality.

“The reality of this situation was brought home to people on the committee and the reality of people travelling and using abortion pills but also the persistence of a young, radical movement that led this campaign, that refused to accept an Irish solution to an Irish problem.”

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