MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has said he believes the Cabinet will make a decision on whether to legislate for the X Case early next year.
Speaking this afternoon, the Minister said he wants to see “definitive measures” which will address the current legal limbo around abortion rights in Ireland but said the consultation should not be dragged out for months on end.
Minister Reilly confirmed that the Cabinet will discuss the expert group report into abortion at its meeting on Tuesday 27 November. The report looks at how Ireland should react to the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of A, B and C versus Ireland.
Reports today suggest that the report will propose a number of options available to the government to comply with the ECHR judgment, including introducing legislation, holding a referendum or bringing in guidelines. However the Minister said that contrary to some suggestions, he has not yet come down in favour of any particular option and warned against rushing into a decision.
“I don’t think that it’s something we’re going to solve in a matter of weeks,” he told RTE Radio One’s This Week programme. “It’s something that’s going to require a lot of consultation, I’ll bring the report and my analysis and that of my Department to Cabinet on Tuesday week. We will have a discussion there and we will plan the next steps from there”.
He said he would not make guesses about the Cabinet discussion on Tuesday week but said he believes there’s consensus that the decision should not take “months and months” to be reached.
“It would be wrong of me to pre-empt what Cabinet will decide on Tuesday week but that’s my view and I think we’re all of one mind,” he said. “I think the Taoiseach is quite right, we don’t rush this, but at the same time we don’t leave it on the long finger because, you know, this is always a situation in any analysis of a situation like this that you have to match the urgency of the situation with the need to have a thorough and proper consultation and a plan to deal with it and I don’t think that we can rush this in weeks but neither do I think we can afford to leave it for months and months on end”.
Reilly said he has read the report a number of times but will need to study it further. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Health are the only Cabinet members who have received the report, Reilly confirmed. He said that the Attorney-General had not been given a copy.
Separately, the BBC reports that more than 50 members of the European Parliament have signed a letter which calls on the Irish government to change Irish abortion legislation.
The letter, which was initiated by Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, calls for the government to allow for abortion if a woman’s life or health is at risk.
Speaking this afternoon, Minister James Reilly said he will insist that the family will have an input into the terms of reference of the report into Savita Halappanavar’s death.