Leo Varadkar: ‘North’s women may be able to have abortions here’

Taoiseach makes remarks amid new push for abortion reform in Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said women from Northern Ireland could be able to have abortions in the Republic when its new laws on the issue are introduced. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said women from Northern Ireland could be able to have abortions in the Republic when its new laws on the issue are introduced. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

Women from Northern Ireland could be able to have abortions in the Republic when its new laws on the issue are introduced, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said he could not imagine why women from Northern Ireland would not be able to receive treatment for crisis pregnancies in the Republic, when Northern Irish people can already access healthcare here.

The Taoiseach made the comments as British prime minister Theresa May comes under increasing pressure to make changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion regime following the State’s resounding Yes vote in a referendum on liberalising its laws on terminations.

Hundreds of pro-choice activists vowed to hit Northern Ireland like a “seismic wave” as they stepped up their bid for change with a rally in Belfast on Monday.

Abortions are outlawed in nearly all cases in Northern Ireland. Once new legislation is passed in the Republic, Northern Ireland will be the only part of Britain or Ireland where prohibition is maintained.

“We do have people who already come to our hospitals from Northern Ireland for healthcare so I imagine it will be treated as a normal part of our health service,” Mr Varadkar said.

But he added this would have to be examined as legislators draft a Bill in the coming months.

Access to services

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had called on the Government to ensure women in Northern Ireland can access abortion services in Irish GP surgeries and hospitals.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the issue was very important as Brexit is looming.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil on Tuesday the Government wanted to legislate for abortion in Ireland as quickly as possible.

But he said it should not be rushed, because some people do not accept the referendum result and may legally challenge the legislation.

Mr Varadkar said it was likely to be January before abortion reforms will be fully in place. – PA