Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Government approves referendum bill on 8th Amendment

Government approves referendum bill on 8th Amendment

Health minister Simon Harris said if people vote no on the issue, it will be impossible for the government to address issues around female healthcare in Ireland.

The Government has published a six-page policy paper on abortion, setting out its plans for abortion legislation provided the upcoming referendum results in the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

It will also propose that medical practitioners who are opposed to abortion should be allowed to cite a conscientious objection as provided for in existing legislation.

The Dáil is in the process of considering the Referendum Bill.

The 12-week recommendation, which quickly became the consensus among pro-choice politicians, is included in the principles and would provide for abortions until this time "without specific indication".

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Voters will be asked whether they approve of the statement: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies".

Mr Harris told the Dail he was mindful of the impact of the Eighth Amendment since it was inserted 35 years ago.

Before finalizing the exact wording and date of the referendum, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had said it was prudent to wait for the Supreme Court judgment in a case the state was appealing.

Mr Harris also said he was looking into introducing a system of free contraception in an effort to reduce pregnancies.

These include that there should be some time between the initial medical assessment of the pregnant woman and a termination being carried out.

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"This referendum is about asking our citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves".

Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher - a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Abortion said Irish women have been failed by the Eighth Amendment.

"And it's about trusting our doctors to decide when continuing with a pregnancy is a risk to the life or health of a woman.Above all it's about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will".

On Wednesday, Ireland's Supreme Court cleared the way for an abortion referendum planned for the end of May, ruling that the unborn do not have inherent constitutional rights outside the right to life in the eighth amendment of the constitution.

He will describe the regime he would aim to bring in in the event of a repeal vote.

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The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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