Yes voters in Dublin celebrate the result of the vote in May
Yes voters in Dublin celebrate the result of the vote in May

Irish abortion bill passes final stage in senate

“This is a genuinely historic moment”

Katie O'Malley
Friday 14 December 2018 10:46

A bill to legalise abortion services in Ireland has passed all stages in the Seanad (Irish Senate).

On Thursday, The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 was passed by 27 votes to five following a nine hour debate. It will now be given to President Michael D Higgins to be signed into law.

The legislation follows the vote to repeal the Eight Amendment which banned abortion in a referendum in May by 66.4 per cent.

The change in law will now allow for abortion services to be provided up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, where there is a risk of fatal foetal abnormality and the risk to life or health of the pregnant woman, compared to 24 weeks under abortion laws in the UK.

During the debate, Health Minister Simon Harris rejected all 63 amendments submitted.

When the Bill was passed, 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.”

He also thanked his colleagues for their “co-operation” to see the bill through and campaigners “who fought for 35 years to change a nation, to change hearts and minds”.

"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," he added.

He also tweeted his support for the bill, saying it will ‘end lonely journeys, end the stigma and support women’s choices’ in Ireland.

Senator Catherine Noone, who chaired the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee, said she was “very proud to have been involved in such monumental change”, reports the Journal. She added that laws in Ireland are “now more caring to women”.

The Irish Examiner reports Deirdre Duffy, the Campaign Manager for abortion rights campaign group Together for Yes described the vote as a “truly momentous day for women in Ireland”.

She continued: “For the first time ever since the establishment of the state, women who become pregnant in Ireland are now safe and protected by compassionate legislation. The harm and suffering the Eighth has caused for women is now only a memory and as a nation we will ensure that women are never treated this way again in Ireland.”

More than 170,000 Irish women have been forced to travel abroad for abortions since 1980.

Over 3,000 women travelled to the England and Wales for abortions last year, while many others bought abortion pills online, according to the UK Department of Health.

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Last week, the legislation legalising abortion in Ireland was passed by the Dáil (the lower house of Ireland's parliament) by 90 votes to 15 and was passed onto its next stage in the Seanad.

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