Abortion services are now free to women in Ireland, after Minister for Health Simon Harris confirmed on Tuesday that the constitutional ban would be lifted.
The confirmation from Harris came just 24 hours after the President Michael D Higgins officially signed the Thirty Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Act 2018 into law, which will remove the Eighth Amendment from the Irish constitution after a landslide victory for the “Yes” campaign.
Journalist Gavan Reilly announced the move on Twitter saying: “History made. The President has this evening signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Act 2018, which takes immediate effect. The 8th Amendment is thus repealed, and Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion is officially lifted.
History made. The President has this evening signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution Act 2018, which takes immediate effect.
The 8th Amendment is thus repealed, and Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion is officially lifted. #8thRef
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) September 18, 2018
The President of Ireland official Twitter page posted the following announcement on Tuesday:
“In accordance with Article 46 of the Constitution, President Higgins today signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018, and it has accordingly become law.”
In accordance with Article 46 of the Constitution, President Higgins today signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018, and it has accordingly become law.
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) September 18, 2018
Harris spoke with reporters at the opening of the new primary care center in Grangegorman, Dublin, and stressed that “cost is not a barrier” any longer for women who are seeking to end the lives of their unborn babies.
Harris also said the move of making abortions free would stifle women traveling abroad for the procedure.
“Yes, it is my intention that the services will be free,” Mr Harris confirmed.
“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen, you get abortion clinics to develop or you can see people having to continue to travel.
“I want this [abortion services] to be provided as part of our healthcare system, our public healthcare system and part of our primary healthcare system.
“I think it’s important to say that Tuesday was an extraordinarily historic day. The President of Ireland signed the bill that has removed the eighth amendment from the constitution, and today is the first day that the eighth amendment is actually gone from Bunreacht na hEireann.”
“That now allows us as legislatures to do our job,” he said.
Harris went on to explain that the decision was to prevent the establishment of privately-owned abortion clinics in Ireland.
“You [could] see private clinics develop, we don’t want that to happen in Ireland.”
The Minister for Health tweeted on Tuesday:
“The 8th amendment is now officially gone from our constitution. So many of you worked so hard to make this a reality. Legislation to Cabinet next week and into Dáil in October”
The 8th amendment is now officially gone from our constitution. So many of you worked so hard to make this a reality. Legislation to Cabinet next week and into Dáil in October pic.twitter.com/PVO1Lw536w
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) September 18, 2018
Ireland’s Health Minister said he expects cabinet to pass the new rules immediately in order for him to bring them to the Dáil the first week of October, fully introducing them by the end of 2018.
“Next week I will return to cabinet for final approval of the bill that will legislate for termination of pregnancy in certain circumstances,” Harris said.
“I intend to introduce that in the Oireachtas in the first week of October, I hope we can pass it through the Oireachtas in the month of October and November,” he said.
The Pro Life Campaign said the proceedings at the Oireachtas Committee were “a rude awakening” for anyone who believed the new abortion law to be restrictive.
Dr. Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“Today’s committee hearings brought into sharp focus the extreme nature of the abortion law about to be introduced. It’s a definite rude awakening for anyone who thought the law would be somewhat restrictive.”
“It is clear Health Minister Simon Harris and others in government have no interest in hearing perspectives other than ones that zealously back abortion. It is going to take time but the public will realize the full extent of the charade that is going on when the reality of what the abortion law permits starts to sink in,” she said.
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