Varadkar announces abortion referendum for next year

Simon Harris will be responsible for bringing forward the legislation

Varadkar announces abortion referendum for next year

Fine Gael Leader and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD at Government Buildings, 08-06-2017. Image: RollingNews

Amidst the news of a new Taoiseach in the Dáil and the announcement of his Cabinet, the news that Leo Varadkar had confirmed an abortion referendum, seemed to slip through the cracks. 

Yesterday he confirmed that the referendum will take place sometime next year.  

He said Health Minister Simon Harris would be responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for the referendum on the eight amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn.

On Tuesday, The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled for the second time that Ireland's abortion laws currently violate women's human rights.

The ruling came after an Irish woman, Siobhán Whelan, was denied access to abortion services in Ireland following a diagnosis, in 2010 of a fatal foetal impairment.

The Committee said that Ireland must provide Ms. Whelan with reparations for the harm she suffered and reform its laws to ensure other women do not continue to face similar violations.

Formal submission

Simon Harris said that the report was being reviewed by his department and a formal submission would be prepared. He also said it was his belief that the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities should be addressed by the Government.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Simon Harris previously said: "I have met with families who have been through the trauma of knowing their baby will not survive and I have been very moved by hearing of their experiences. 

"There can hardly be a more difficult situation for a woman who is pregnant to face than to be told by her doctor that her unborn child is not fully healthy and well, and is not likely to survive."