Landmark abortion legislation succeeds in the Dáil

Landmark abortion legislation succeeds in the Dáil

Legislation providing access to abortion for the first time in Ireland has been passed in the Dáil after a lengthy debate, The Irish Times reports.

The bill passed by 90 votes to 15 – with 12 abstentions. It will legalise free access to abortion within 12 weeks’ gestation.

After that period terminations will only be legal where there is a threat to the life of the woman or a serious threat to her health – or where there is a foetal abnormality.

Sixty-five amendments were tabled but only those changes brought by Health Minister Simon Harris were passed as the bill now goes before the Seanad.

TDs voted against an amendment that would remove the obligation on doctors to refer patients if they object on grounds on conscience. Various amendments tabled by anti-abortion TDs were voted down. One on parental notification suffered a 69-21 defeat.

Independent TD Michael Collins noted that people under 18 cannot “join the Army or Garda Síochána, register to vote, leave home without parental consent, get teeth whitened without parental consent, or use a sunbed without parental consent.

“Despite that, it could be perfectly legal for someone under 18 years of age to consent to an abortion without parental consent.”

Mr Harris replied: “In cases involving people under the age of 16, parents are involved unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

Former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan said: “Women should not feel pressurised into having an abortion. It vital, therefore, that women are fully informed when comes to such a decision. It appears that this House, and indeed the Minister, wants to push abortion.”

One change to the bill would see the law reviewed after three years instead of five while another, which was accepted, would remove the requirement that the doctor certifying a woman for an abortion must be the same as the one who performs it.

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