Government to consider funding abortion services
Minister for Health to seek Cabinet approval to publish abortion legislation
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, who will bring the heads of the Health (Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy) Bill to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. Photograph: Tom Honan.
Minister for Health Simon Harris is to ask the Cabinet to allow for State funding of the cost of care for women seeking a termination of their pregnancy, as part of providing abortion services.
The Minister will bring the heads of the Health (Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy) Bill to this morning’s Cabinet meeting, which will legalise access to abortions in certain circumstances.
Government sources said the Minister had been clear that cost should not be a barrier to women
As indicated ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, the Bill will permit abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy and beyond that, when a mother’s life or health is at risk.
Government sources said the Minister had been clear that cost should not be a barrier to women and while no decision is expected on the means today, it is understood Mr Harris is examining whether services can be provided under the Maternity and Infant Scheme.
Currently, that programme allows for maternity services free of charge when provided by a family doctor and a hospital obstetrician but this could be expanded to women who may require a termination of their pregnancy.
Any such service will be subject to discussions with the GP representatives, it is understood.
Under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, the State funds terminations when a mother’s life is at risk. This will be expanded to include abortions when the health of the mother is in jeopardy.
The legislation will be published today but will not be introduced in the Oireachtas due to a number of legal challenges taken against the result of the referendum.