Government to reveal policy paper on abortion if 8th amendment is repealed

Cabinet unanimously approves eighth amendment referendum bill

Cabinet unanimously approves eighth amendment referendum bill

Mr Harris outlined the circumstances in which abortion would be legislated for in the case of the Eighth Amendment being repealed.

"We will not be able to address issues in relation to women who have had fatal fetal abnormalities in their pregnancy, in relation to women and girls who have been raped and abused in this country, to the fact that our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, work colleagues could be using the abortion pill without medical supervision", Harris said.

The 12-week recommendation, which quickly became the consensus among pro-choice politicians, is included in the principles and would provide for abortions until this time "without specific indication".

Simon Harris introduced the referendum bill in the Dáil earlier, and in a speech he argued there needs to take a "quantum leap" forward on abortion.

Currently, terminations are allowed only when the life of the mother is at risk, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

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The exact wording would be: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy". "Retaining the Eighth Amendment will not prevent it from happening".

The Health Minister compared the current laws to those in Saudi Arabia - and said he hopes there can be a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment in May. Mr Harris announced that he has asked the Chief Medical Officer to look into the feasibility, and in particular the cost, of a State-run contraception service.

"This referendum is about asking our citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves".

The initial judgment related to an immigration case in which a Nigerian man sought to revoke a 2008 deportation order in proceedings initiated eight years later on the basis that his Irish partner was at that time pregnant with their child.

"It's about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families".

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He added: "The first thing we have to do, if we are to bring about change, is to repeal Article 40.3.3".

"There's been no rationale offered to why the entire process has had to lead to a mad rush towards May 25 as the date of the proposed referendum that will strip unborn children of all constitutional protection if the Eighth is removed".

"The Labour Party was very clear in 1983 that the Eighth Amendment was the wrong amendment for our Constitution and for Ireland, for the people of Ireland and particularly for the women of Ireland".

The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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