Just months after a historical vote brought legislation that legalized abortion in Ireland, the health minister said that the procedure will be free for all women now.
The referendum in May happened to be one of the most intense votes in the country’s history. Considering it’s a place that is so normally conservative and has a massive pull from the Catholic Church, the enormous victory for this legislation was a gigantic example of how the liberal element of voters is increasing.
Hence the abortion referendum bill was signed on Tuesday September 18, by President Michael Higgins, which removed the somewhat controversial Eighth Amendment from the law.
The Health Minister Simon Harris said that it was:
“…an extraordinarily historic day.”
He was asked how the country would handle medical expenses for abortions, he replied:
“Yes, it is my intention that the services will be free.”
Originally when the 19th century Eighth Amendment law was still in force, there were many thousands of women who would travel to the UK to have an abortion, and even more order pills online, at an even bigger risk for them!
The total number of Irish women traveling to the UK for one of these abortions declined in some recent years, although it’s estimated that in 2016 there were about 3500 women who made the journey to the UK for one of these abortions.
In England, Wales and Scotland, hence the UK minus Ireland you can have an abortion up to a limit of 24 weeks of pregnancy. And in certain cases, for example, if a woman’s life is at risk in some way because of the pregnancy, or the child would be born with severe disabilities, the procedure is allowed later than this limit too.
The “Yes” campaigners are waiting for the official result of the Irish abortion referendum at Dublin Castle, on May 26…
Back when laws were made for the UK, The 1967 Abortion Act stipulated that legal abortion could happen in the U.K., however that didn’t apply to Northern Ireland.
Harris said that by taking away the cost of the procedure, then it would be, together with the stress and pain it brings to the women involved, would be somewhat reduced.
“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier”
Harris also went on to say:
“If cost is a barrier, you get into a situation where one of two things could happen: You see private clinics develop—we don’t want that to happen in Ireland, we want this to be part of an integrated public health service—and secondly, you can see people having to continue to travel.”
With this almost complete ban on abortion removed, the health minister also plans to put forward more new legislation to ease restrictions even further. To allow elective abortion at up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and limit access out to 23 weeks.
The new legislation is thought to reach Parliament in the month of October and, if it’s successful, it could come into effect in early 2019!