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26 terminations carried out in Ireland under new abortion laws

Minister Leo Varadkar revealed the figures today.

LAST YEAR, 26 terminations were carried out in Irish hospitals under new laws introduced in 2014.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar revealed the figures today, noting that 23 cases related to the woman’s health and three to potential suicide.

“Fourteen arose from a risk to the life of the mother arising from physical illness, three arose from a risk to the life of the mother from suicide, and nine from a risk to the life of the mother from emergencies arising from physical illness,” the Department of Health confirmed in a statement.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Varadkar said the figures were “the kind of numbers that we expected to see”.

“I think it’s important to say that abortion remains illegal in Ireland except where there is a risk to life of the mother,” he added.

In those circumstances, it really is a matter for the woman and her doctors and that’s why information we’re releasing today is quite limited.

“Where there is a risk to the life of the mother it’s a matter for a matter for the treating doctors and the woman alone,” he continued. “It’s not a matter, in my view, for politicians, other doctors or anyone else to be trawling around the country trying to investigate what is, in my view, a private and personal matter for the people concerned. ”

Varadkar believes “the indications are that the Act is working”.

I know some people may disagree with the Act in the sense that some people think we should have a more liberal regime and some people think we should have a more conservative regime.

Under the new laws, the Minister is obliged to issue a report each year, outlining the number of terminations carried out in hospitals.

The first report following the introduction of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in 2014 will be laid before the Oireachtas later today.

The report also showed that one application for review was made to the HSE. The Review Committee carried this out and found the application did not meet the criteria for a termination under the Act.

Earlier this month, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was highly critical of Ireland’s “highly restrictive” abortion laws, recommending a referendum should be held on the 8th Amendment.

Varadkar today dismissed this could be done within the lifetime of the current government.

“Our constitution can only be changed by the people, not by a UN committee,” he said.

“They’re welcome to give their opinions, but any further changes would require a referendum. The government has decided that their will be no further referendums on the issue of abortion during this government.

“Obviously what the next government does will depend on the outcome of the election and what’s in the programme for government.”

However, he reiterated his personal view that the 8th Amendment is “restrictive” as it “doesn’t take account of the potential long-term impact on the health of the mother as opposed to the life”.

“It’s not for me to come up with a revised wording on my own. I think that’s something there would have to be a public debate about.”

Asked about his party’s stance, he was less definitive.

“It’s a divisive issue across the country. My party hasn’t determined yet what its policy on this is, but obviously we’ll have to have some sort of a discussion about that before we put together a manifesto.”

With reporting by Orla Ryan

More: Abortion strikes fear into so many politicians, but it hasn’t gone away you know…

Read: Most politicians want to repeal the 8th Amendment – just don’t ask Fine Gael

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