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Legal abortion in cases of rape would be a 'GP-led service' under draft proposals

Cases of rape would follow the same rules as the proposed 12 week limit.

Legislating for terminations in cases of rape would be complex, according to the report.
Legislating for terminations in cases of rape would be complex, according to the report.
Image: Shutterstock

THE DRAFT REPORT by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has recommended that victims of rape would go through a GP if they wish to secure an abortion.

The committee, which voted yesterday that the Eighth Amendment be repealed, came up with a different recommendation on the issue of rape than the Citizens’ Assembly.

The committee yesterday voted that a termination should be available without restriction up to 12 weeks of gestation.

The committee did not recommend that in cases of rape this should be longer.

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended that in cases of rape a termination should be available up to 22 weeks, but the committee’s report states that this could be “unworkable in practice”.

The report raises concerns that such an approach could require a victim of rape to engage in some form of “qualification or verification” of their sexual assault.

The report notes that some women find it “difficult or impossible to report rape or sexual assault” and adds that insisting they do so to secure a termination would be “unreasonable”.

It cites the underreporting of rape and sexual assault to gardaí as evidence that some women choose not report a sexual assault.

The report argues that attempting to legislate for these concerns would be complex and that the issue is best dealt with under the 12 weeks framework.

The 12 framework is not spelled out in detail in the draft report but states that it would be “availed of through a GP-led service delivered in a clinical context as determined by law and licensing practice in Ireland with a gestational limit of 12 weeks. ”

In the context of cases of rape, it said this would be through the same pathway because of the “complexities inherent in legislating for the termination of pregnancy for reasons of rape or other sexual assault.”

Referendum

The vote recommending a repeal the Eighth Amendment was passed by 14 votes to six yesterday.

Today, three of the members opposed said they would not be supporting the final report of the committee and would instead be issuing their own “joint assessment”.

In a statement, Peter Fitzpatrick TD, Mattie McGrath TD and Senator Ronan Mullen said yesterday’s votes by the committee “were the natural outcome of this flawed process”.

“We will not be party to any report or recommendations that attempt to lend parliamentary legitimacy to the destruction of unborn human life,” they said.

The remaining members of the committee discussed the report in private session this evening and chairperson Catherine Noone confirmed that the final report would be issued on 20 December.

Before the session finished, Independent Senator Lynn Ruane said she wished to thank Noone for performance as chairperson

“On behalf of the committee, and on behalf of the people of Ireland I suppose, I would like to say thanks for taking the brave move of chairing the committee, we very much appreciate it,” Ruane said.

After the report is published, legislation is likely to go before the Dáil early next year paving the way for a referendum in the summer.

Read: ‘We have further to go’: Why three Sinn Féin politicians abstained in an Eighth Committee vote >

Read: Committee recommends legal abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without restriction >

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