Harris Bill to Provide for Free Abortions
Minister for Health Simon Harris is looking to have taxpayers cover the cost of abortions provided under his planned abortion legislation. The Minister published the heads of the Health (Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy) Bill after presenting them to the Cabinet this week. They are broadly similar to the draft legislation that was published before the referendum, providing for abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks and on more limited grounds up to 24 weeks.
Government sources said the Minister had been clear that cost should not be a barrier to women and it is understood Mr Harris is examining whether abortions can be provided under the existing Maternity and Infant Scheme. Currently, that programme provides maternity services free of charge when provided by a family doctor and a hospital obstetrician but this could be expanded to women who are seeking abortions. Any such service will be subject to discussions with the GP representatives, it is understood.
The legislation will not be introduced in the Oireachtas until the Autumn due to a number of legal challenges being taken against the result of the referendum. However, it remains the government’s intention that women will be able to access abortions in Ireland from January 2019.
The Irish Times. July 10. Irish Independent. July 10. Department of Health. July 10.