Dáil passes landmark bill allowing abortion services

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which will allow for the introduction of abortion services, will proceed to the Seanad after passing all stages in the Dáil last night. 

TDs voted in favour of the abortion legislation by 90 votes to 15, with 12 abstentions.

The midnight vote in the Dáil came after hours of debate and more than 60 amendments. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris described the passage of the legislation as a significant step forward in preparing for the introduction of termination of pregnancy services at the beginning of January.

He said: "I look forward to a time - not far away now - when we will be able to assure women experiencing crisis pregnancies that they will be looked after here at home, where they need not fear that they will be stigmatised for their choices or lack the support they and their families need from our health service."

The minister said he was "looking forward to being able to assure our doctors, nurses and midwives that they can be confident in the decisions they are helping their patients to make and in providing the care their patients require".

Since the bill's introduction at first stage in early October, there have been some minor changes, including a decision to review the legislation after three years, rather than five years as originally planned. 

Two different doctors will be allowed to assess a woman in early pregnancy and the offences section has been moved from the front of the bill.  

More than seven hours were set aside for yesterday's final debate, however an extra hour was sought from the Government Chief Whip Sean Kyne to ensure that the legislation would get through the Dáil by midnight. 

The bill passed the fifth and final stage in time for Seanad deliberation, which is scheduled to begin this afternoon.

Ireland voted decisively to change the Constitution to repeal the Eighth Amendment in May, with 66.4% voting in favour of new legislation to allow for the termination of pregnancies.

Read more news of Dublin on our site.

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