Introduction of legislation on abortion not possible before summer break
No mention of abortion Bill in list of 19 Bills Government is seeking to progress in next fortnight
Simon Harris: he has insisted that all legal provisions to allow for abortion services will be in place by the end of the year
The Government has conceded it will not now be possible to introduce legislation on abortion before the summer break, significantly extending the time before the legislation is on the statute books.
In a document circulated to members of the Dáil Business Committee, the Government has listed a large number of Bills it intends to bring to the House before the summer recess begins in mid-July. However, there is no mention of the abortion Bill in the list of 19 Bills that the Government is seeking progress on in the next fortnight.
Its absence is an admission that the Bill, which will provide for legal abortions for any reason up to 12 weeks and in specific circumstances thereafter, will not begin the legislative process until the autumn, some 2½ months later than hoped.
The Constitution cannot be amended in accordance with the result of the referendum until the legal challenges have concluded
Minister for Health Simon Harris had hoped to begin the Dáil debates on the second stage (the first outing in parliament) before the Dáil rises for the summer recess, scheduled on July 13th. This would have enabled the Bill to complete its committee stage during the Dáil recess, probably in early September, before returning to the Dáil for final approval before the end of September.
However, legal challenges to the result of the abortion referendum in the High Court have delayed the anticipated process. The Constitution cannot be amended in accordance with the result of the referendum until the legal challenges have concluded, though few in Government or legal circles believe that the challenges have any chance of success.
The Government still intends to publish the Bill before the recess, but it will not now begin the legislative process until the autumn. Mr Harris has insisted, however, that all legal provisions to allow for abortion services will be in place by the end of the year.