Policy paper to include time period between abortion request and pill

Government sources insist measure is to assist medical professionals and women

“In some circumstances it will be necessary for the medical profession to satisfy themselves that a termination is medically appropriate, for example, if there is a concern it may be an ectopic pregnancy.”

“In some circumstances it will be necessary for the medical profession to satisfy themselves that a termination is medically appropriate, for example, if there is a concern it may be an ectopic pregnancy.”

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The Government is to seek to introduce a time period between a woman seeking a termination within the first trimester of pregnancy and the abortion pill being administered in the event of the Eighth Amendment being repealed.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will publish a policy paper this week outlining how the Government intends to legislate should article 40.3.3 be removed from the Constitution.

It is understood the 10-page document will commit to legislating for terminations “without specific indication” up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The paper will stress a time period will have to “elapse” between when the request is made for an abortion and the medication being given to women.

Government sources stressed there was no decision on the length of time to be applied but insisted the measure is aimed at assisting medical professionals and women.

“It allows a reflection period for the woman, as is the case in other countries. Also in some circumstances it will be necessary for the medical profession to satisfy themselves that a termination is medically appropriate, for example, if there is a concern it may be an ectopic pregnancy.”

Request

The policy paper will commit to the implementation of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment recommendations and to allow for terminations on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It will also say abortions should be provided when there is a risk to the health, life or mental health of the mother. Two doctors will be asked to determine if termination can be provided in those circumstances.

In the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, two medical professionals will make the decision as to whether an abortion can be provided. No gestational limit will be applied in these circumstances.

The policy paper will indicate how the Government intends to legislate in the event the referendum provides for the removal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

The wording is expected to be finalised at Thursday’s meeting and published thereafter. It will be introduced to the Dáil on Friday

The Cabinet will hold a special meeting on Thursday to consider its contents and the final draft wording of the Referendum Bill.

It was due to consider the matter yesterday but it was delayed due to the impending ruling of the Supreme Court on the rights of the unborn.

The ruling will be delivered today in Limerick and the Attorney General Séamus Woulfe will consider its contents before advising the Government on how to proceed.

Proposed wording

Government figures indicated they did not expect any significant changes to its proposed referendum wording, which is to ask voters to repeal the Eighth Amendment and allow for provision to be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.

The wording is expected to be finalised at Thursday’s meeting and published thereafter. It will be introduced to the Dáil on Friday and the Referendum Commission will be established thereafter.

The Irish Times also understands the Government will confirm it will release an annual report on the numbers of women granted terminations as part of its policy paper.

Similar to the current law – the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act – the Health Service Executive would provide the Oireachtas with a clear outline of the number of terminations carried out every year.

Mr Harris will also confirm his intention to improve sex education in schools and provide for better access to contraception. He will also outline how the Government intends to improve maternity services and assist women in crisis pregnancies.

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