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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Leah Farrell/
# Health
Review of abortion services to go to Cabinet in coming weeks
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the review was ‘about improving access to services’.

A REVIEW OF Ireland’s abortion services is to be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks before being sent to the Oireachtas Health Committee, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

The legislation which provided for termination services following the 2018 referendum stipulated that a review be held three years after its implementation.

The current review into the abortion legislation was started by Donnelly in 2021, with a public consultation taking place alongside it.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One today, Donnelly said the review examined “the parts of the services that are working, the parts of the services where access for women is not where it needs to be [and] the parts of the service where supports for clinicians can get better.”

“Ultimately the review is about improving access to services for women. That’s what we’re focused on. I’ll be bringing it to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

“We’ll then publish it and I’m minded then to get the view of the Oireachtas health committee on it as well,” Donnelly said.

Dr Deirdre Duffy, a sociologist who contributed to the report, said this week that the system was under severe strain because of the number of women accessing GP and consultants for terminations.

Donnelly said Dr Duffy was “not correct at all” and that the “vast majority” of women who access abortion services “have their needs met in primary care.”

Under one in 10 GPs currently provide abortion services.

The current laws around abortion have been criticised for not adequately meeting the needs of those who need terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities.

Additionally, politicians and campaigners have called for the mandatory three-day wait for a termination procedure to be scrapped.

Given the low number of GPs who provide terminations, some women, particularly in rural areas, have to make two lengthy trips to access abortion services to request a termination and then have the actual procedure.

In recent months, there has also been focus on safe access zones legislation, with the Health Committee being told in January that there is yet to be progress on a timeline for the new laws.

The proposed laws, which Donnelly labelled as a “priority”, will designate a protest exclusion zone of 100 metres around all healthcare facilities capable of providing abortion services, including those not currently offering termination of pregnancy.

Plans to legislate for the zones were approved by Cabinet in July 2022.

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