Abortion: Taoiseach defends 12-week plan amid Cabinet split

Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris and nine other Ministers support the 12-week proposal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the Government’s proposals to legislate for abortions up to 12 weeks. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES  Abortion vote tracker

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the Government’s proposals to legislate for abortions up to 12 weeks. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES Abortion vote tracker

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the Government’s proposals to legislate for abortions up to 12 weeks in light of criticism of the measures by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney has outlined his difficulties in legislating for unrestricted access to terminations in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Instead, he has proposed legislating to allow for abortions in the cases of rape without gestational limits and mandating GPs to make that decision.

Asked if those measures put forward by the Tánaiste were workable, the Taoiseach said he did not want to make this debate personalised and would not be engaging in commentary on what Mr Coveney has said.

However, he added: “Suffice to say the proposals that the Government is putting forward, you will see that draft legislation and the detailed general scheme in a few weeks time, that was not plucked out of the air and that came from an all-party committee after lengthy deliberations and was built on advice from the Citizen’s Assembly so the reason why the all-party committee came to the recommendations is because they did consider all of this very carefully.”

The Cabinet has split views on the proposal to allow for unrestricted access to abortion but are united on the proposition to repeal the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution.

Mr Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris and nine other Ministers support the 12-week proposal.

However Mr Coveney, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, Government chief whip Joe McHugh and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed have expressed reservations about the measure.

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