Gov­ern­ment to wait for court rul­ing be­fore leg­is­lat­ing on abor­tion

The Irish Times - - Home News - SARAH BAR­DON Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter

The Gov­ern­ment will not in­tro­duce any leg­is­la­tion to im­ple­ment the out­come of the ref­er­en­dum on the Eighth Amend­ment un­til court chal­lenges to the re­sult have con­cluded.

Re­ports emerged this week­end that Min­is­ter for Health Si­mon Har­ris was con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing an in­terim law to as­sist women who have re­ceived a di­ag­no­sis of a fatal foetal ab­nor­mal­ity and to de­crim­i­nalise women who pro­cure an abor­tion.

Gov­ern­ment fig­ures have de­nied this and say it will seek to im­ple­ment one piece of leg­is­la­tion, which will not be in­tro­duced un­til the chal­lenge to the ref­er­en­dum re­sult con­cludes.

How­ever, Mr Har­ris is in­tend­ing to com­mence cer­tain as­pects of the leg­is­la­tion ear­lier than oth­ers.

“The Min­is­ter is specif­i­cally look­ing at two ar­eas: the abil­ity for a doc­tor to give in­for­ma­tion and re­fer, and the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of women.

“He hopes that both is­sues could be ad­dressed and com­menced this year. Abor­tion ser­vices would then com­mence in Jan­uary,” the source added.

Three sep­a­rate le­gal chal­lenges were ini­ti­ated against the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum, which took place on May 25th.

High Court

Last month, the High Court re­fused leave to chal­lenge the re­sults but Dublin woman Joanna Jor­dan is ap­peal­ing that de­ci­sion.

The case will be heard on Fri­day.

The court cases have re­sulted in a de­lay in the in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion to reg­u­late the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy.

The law re­mains the Pro­tec­tion of Life Dur­ing Preg­nancy Act, which states abor­tion is only le­gal when a mother’s life is at risk in­clud­ing by way of sui­cide.

Gov­ern­ment fig­ures de­clined to com­ment on the court process but said it was still their am­bi­tion to in­tro­duce ser­vices by Jan­uary 2019.

How­ever, it is hope­ful cer­tain as­pects of the leg­is­la­tion can be put in place ear­lier than oth­ers.

For ex­am­ple, the Gov­ern­ment will seek to re­peal the In­for­ma­tion Act and al­low doc­tors here share in­for­ma­tion on their pa­tients with med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in the United King­dom be­fore the end of the year.

It will also aim to re­move the threat of 14-year prison sen­tence for women who pro­cure an abor­tion in this coun­try.

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