Ireland: Abortion Bill Finally Passes Parliament

So far, women terminating a pregnancy in Ireland were punishable with 14 years of prison, even in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation.

© Paul FAITH / AFP

The Irish Parliament passed a bill legalizing abortion on Thursday, December 13, seven months after the historical referendum where the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban.

Introduced by parliament in October, the bill passed on Thursday. It allows pregnancy termination "on demand" up to the 12th week of a pregnancy, or when the physical or mental health of the mother is in danger.

It also allows abortion in case of a fatal fetal abnormality which could lead to in utero death. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar praised a historic moment for Irish Women on his Twitter account:

On May 25, 2018, 66% of the Irish people had voted to overturn the ban on abortion, a cultural breakthrough for the 4,7 million people country with a strong Catholic tradition, three years after the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"Just over 200 days ago, you, the people of Ireland voted to repeal the 8th (Constitution amendment of the Irish constitution which banned the abortion in 1983) so we could care for women with compassion. Today we have passed the law to make this a reality" said the Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris on Twitter.

He welcomed a vote "to end lonely journeys, end the stigma and support women’s choices in (the) country". In a press release, Harris paid tribute to "the campaigners who fought for 35 years to change a nation, to change hearts and minds". "I want to thank the minority who fought the battle in here when it was convenient for the majority to ignore" he added.

So far, Irish women wishing to terminate a pregnancy had to travel to Britain to do so. Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty International Ireland’s Executive Director, said:

"We welcome the passage of this bill, and fully appreciate the importance of its enactment by year’s end so that abortion services can begin in January" but warned about the "flaws" of the bill as it is drafted. The NGO specifically regrets the mandatory waiting periods and the continued criminalization of health professionals. The bill is now set to be signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins before coming into force in January.

Konbini with AFP

By Astrid Van Laer, published on 14/12/2018