Abortion bill passes all stages in the Seanad

Abortions will be legal in Ireland from January 1st next year. A bill which paves the way for ab...

20.00 13 Dec 2018

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Abortion bill passes all stage...

Abortion bill passes all stages in the Seanad


20.00 13 Dec 2018

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Abortions will be legal in Ireland from January 1st next year.

A bill which paves the way for abortion in Ireland has passed all stages in the Seanad.

It gives effect to the result of the abortion referendum in May, when Irish people voted overwhelmingly to legalise abortion.


The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill will now go to Áras an Uachtaráin to be signed by President Michael D Higgins.

All amendments were voted on in the chamber on Thursday night.

Speaking after the bill was passed Senator Catherine Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, said: "I've been contemplating for the last few hours and thinking about various things - but predominantly my thoughts are with Savita and all of the women who had to travel in times when our laws abandoned women in this country.

"I want to pay tribute to Enda Kenny, who started this process of deliberative democracy with the Citizens' Assembly and was much maligned for doing so - and I think we owe him a debt of gratitude for suggesting this as a process, which I think we'll all agree has worked well.

"I also want to pay tribute to the Taoiseach who put this front and centre on his agenda the first day he was elected."

Senator Catherine Noone at the launch of the Committee on Eighth Amendment final report in Leinster House in 2017 | Image: Sam Boal/

She also thanked Health Minister Simon Harris and the Together4Yes group.

Senator Noone added: I've had a lot of negative comments come my way in the last year, but this is a proud moment for me, and for all of us I think who have been so involved.

"It's been the privilege of my professional career to do this work, and I'm very proud to have been involved in such monumental change.

"And I'm happy to know that our laws are now more caring to women, and that we live in such a beautiful democracy that listened to the stories of women".

"Thankfully, our decades old English solution to an Irish problem will come to an end once the President signs this bill".

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a tweet it was an "historic moment for Irish women."

Earlier Health Minister Simon Harris addressed Senators.

He said: "Let's not forget this is a bill about access and this is about making sure that women can access lawful termination freely and safely in our country in a way that they cannot do today.

"In a way that I believe the Irish people instructed us to get on with it and make sure it happens - and in a way I'm determined will happen in this country from the 1st of January as well.

"I'd also like to make the point that the woman will never be criminalised - no pregnant woman will be criminalised under this legislation.

"And that is a very significant difference to the situation today".

Speaking after the bill completed its passage, Minister Harris said: "This is a genuinely historic moment. It paves the way for the implementation of the service for termination of pregnancy in January 2019".

"I would like to acknowledge my colleagues in the Oireachtas for their co-operation, their thoughtful contributions and for the long hours everyone has put in to see it through.

"I want to thank 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.

"But today, I think mostly of the thousands of women who were forced to make the journey to access care that should have been available in their own country."

One of the many Seanad votes on amendments to the bill | Image: Oireachtas screenshot

The legislation allows terminations to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It comes after the National Association of GPs claimed the "rushed manner" in which termination of pregnancy services were being introduced were "unacceptable and unsafe".

It claimed pressure was being placed on frontline staff to get some the service in place by January "to protect the Minister for Health's political reputation."

NAGP president Dr Maitiu O'Tuathail said that comments requesting everyone to 'put their shoulder to the wheel' are "insulting and very disappointing" for frontline staff.

He said: "Staff on the frontline have had both shoulders to the wheel for many years now.

"These comments serve to further blame staff working in the health service for its failings and are not acceptable.

"The minister should reflect on his remarks and apologise."

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