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Minister for Health Simon Harris
Minister for Health Simon Harris
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

'A genuinely historic moment': Abortion legislation passes through the Seanad

The legislation will now be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.
Dec 13th 2018, 8:00 PM 20,495 192

ABORTION LEGISLATION HAS been passed by the Seanad.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 was passed by 27 votes to five. 

The Bill will now be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins, having passed through the Dáil last week (by 90 votes to 15).

Ireland voted by 66.4% to 33.6% to remove the Eighth Amendment, which effectively banned abortion here, in May. 

Sixty-three amendments were tabled by senators, all of which were rejected by Health Minister Simon Harris.

Many of the proposed amendments were similar to those previously tabled in the Dáil.

noone Senator Catherine Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee. Source: Oireachtas.ie

Senator Catherine Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee, said she was “very proud to have been involved in such monumental change”.

She added that Irish laws are “now more caring to women”. 

‘Historic’ 

Speaking this evening, Minister Harris said: “This is a genuinely historic moment. 

The legislation permits terminations to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy; or where there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman; or where there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman in an emergency; or where there is a condition present which is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth.

Harris thanked his Oireachtas colleagues for “their cooperation, their thoughtful contributions and for the long hours everyone has put in to see it through”.

He also thanked the campaigners “who fought for 35 years to change a nation, to change hearts and minds”.

vote The Seanad chamber this evening. Source: Oireachtas.ie

“I want to thank the minority who fought the battle in here when it was convenient for the majority to ignore.

“But today, I think mostly of the thousands of women who were forced to make the journey to access care that should have been available in their own country.”

170,000 women 

More than 170,000 women and girls have travelled from Ireland to another country for an abortion since 1980, with the vast majority going to Britain.

Over 3,000 women travelled to the England and Wales for abortions last year, while many others bought abortion pills online. 

Abortion services are expected to being next month. However, some doctors and hospitals have said they are unlikely to be ready to provide terminations in January.

With reporting by Christina Finn 

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