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Simon Harris says timeline for abortion services to be available in January remains unchanged

The health minister has asked politicians to co-operate, and allow for the speedy passage of the legislation.

Simon Harris has said the January deadline for abortion services in Ireland to be available in January still stands.
Simon Harris has said the January deadline for abortion services in Ireland to be available in January still stands.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said the timeline for abortion services to be available in Ireland by January next year remains unchanged. 

It’s reported today that there are concerns among senior government people that the legislation, which is currently making its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas, may not pass in time for the January target. 

The health minister told TheJournal.ie today that he is determined to get the law passed and over the line in time.

“It remains my intention to have the legislation on regulating the termination of pregnancy passed this year and for services to be introduced in January. This will require the co-operation of members of the Oireachtas,” he said. 

Harris added that, like other legislation, such as the drink-driving laws, there is a risk of filibustering by some TDs. He appealed to politicians not to hold up the law, and respect the will of the people who voted in May.

Members have a responsibility to scrutinise the legislation but there will be attempts to frustrate or delay this legislation enactment. It is important to remember women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies today have no alternative but to travel abroad to seek a termination. Nine women a day travel abroad, while three are accessing illegal abortion pills.
The Irish people gave a clear instruction in the referendum in May to remove the Eighth Amendment and to care for Irish women in their own country. I am determined to act on that instruction without delay.

As reported yesterday, Cabinet approved three amendments to the legislation, which includes reviewing the law after three years of its commencement, instead of five. 

Another amendment also stated that if the original medical practitioner looking after the woman seeking an abortion becomes unavailable, a second practitioner will be able to step in and take over, with no additional time delay to the woman seeking an abortion.

In recent weeks, the Oireachtas Health Committee has been considering a number of amendments from TDs.

The legislation will go to Report Stage in the Dáil next week.

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