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Labour Women launch Heads of their Repeal the Eighth Amendment Bill

Posted on November 25, 2015 at 11:38 AM

Labour Women have this morning launched the Heads of their Repeal the Eighth Amendment Bill. This Bill (which you can read below) has been carefully crafted by Senator Ivana Bacik, members of Labour Women and members of the Pro-Choice movement including previous Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness.

This legislation, the Repeal the Eighth Amendment Bill, represents a significant step forward: no other major political party has nailed its colours to the mast on the issue of abortion in this way.

The framework legislation Labour Women have prepared represents this model. It will allow abortion on four medically certified grounds: risk to life; risk to health; rape; and fatal foetal abnormality. The test for assessing risk to health will be that of “real and substantial risk”, a test with which doctors are familiar from existing law. A stricter test will apply for risk to health where abortion is sought beyond the first trimester. 

Labour Women’s framework will repeal existing laws that criminalise women and their doctors; and it will provide protection for those offering and accessing legal abortion services. This is sensible and moderate legislation, relatively conservative by European standards. Indeed, many of us might prefer to see a more radical abortion law in place, but we recognise that the Bill we have prepared more closely reflects the current views of Irish people on abortion, as measured in successive opinion polls.

 

HEADS AND GENERAL SCHEME OF REPEAL THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT BILL 2015

A Framework for the Scheme of the Bill which would be introduced by the Labour Party into the Oireachtas if Article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment) of the Constitution were repealed by way of Referendum. This Bill would provide for the conditions under which terminations of pregnancy may be carried out legally in Ireland. 

Part 1 – Preliminary and General

Head 1 – Interpretation

A provision to give definitions of key terms in the legislation including ‘termination of pregnancy’, ‘medical practitioner’, etc.

‘Termination of pregnancy’ to mean intentional procurement of miscarriage of a woman who is pregnant.

Head 2 – Guiding Principles

A provision to set out the principles which should guide the carrying out of terminations of pregnancy under the legislation, to include the principle that ‘sustaining embryonic and foetal life in pregnancy should be recognised as an important social role which should be voluntary and consensual.’

Head 3 – Decriminalisation and Repeal 

A provision to decriminalise the carrying out of a termination of pregnancy in accordance with the legislation, and to repeal the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.

Part 2 – Grounds for Access to Termination of Pregnancy

Head 4 – Risk to Health

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy on medically certified grounds of real and substantial risk to the health of a woman (physical or mental) in the early stages of pregnancy only (up to 12 weeks).

Head 5 – Risk of Severe or Disabling Damage to Health

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy on medically certified grounds of real and substantial risk of severe or disabling damage to the physical or mental health of a woman.

Head 6 – Risk to Life

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy on medically certified grounds where the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a real and substantial risk to the life of a pregnant woman.

Head 7 – Rape or Sexual Offence

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy on medically certified grounds where the effect of a pregnancy arising out of rape or other sexual offence has been to create a risk to the physical or mental health of a woman.

Head 8 – Fatal Foetal Abnormality

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy on medically certified grounds in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Head 9 – Emergency

A provision to enable access to termination of pregnancy in an emergency where there is an immediate risk to the life or health of a woman.

Head 10 – Consent

A provision referring to other Acts or legal principles concerning consent to medical treatment 

Part 3 – Refusal of Access to Termination of Pregnancy

Head 11 – Conscientious Objection

A provision to facilitate medical practitioners or healthcare workers who have a good faith conscientious objection to participation in the performance of a termination of pregnancy, and to make exception in cases of medical emergency.

Head 12 – Review Body

A provision to establish a review body to review the decision of a medical practitioner to refuse a pregnant woman access to termination of pregnancy.

Head 13 – Application for Review

A provision to set out the procedures for applying to the review body where a pregnant woman has been refused access to a termination of pregnancy.

Head 14 – Proceedings of Review Body 

A provision to set out the procedures to be followed by the review body in considering an application by a pregnant woman who has been refused access to a termination of pregnancy.

Part 4 – Protection of Pregnant Women and Service Providers

Head 15 – Prohibited Behaviour Outside Premises

A provision to make it an offence to obstruct or impede any person seeking to access a location or premises at which terminations of pregnancy are being carried out in accordance with the legislation.

Head 5 – General

Head 16 – Code of Practice 

A provision to require the Minister for Health to prepare codes of practice for medical practitioners working to provide services for termination of pregnancy. 

Head 17 – Reporting and Notification

A provision to require medical practitioners to keep records of terminations of pregnancy carried out in accordance with the legislation, with due regard to the need to protect the right to privacy of the pregnant women concerned. 

Head 18 – Information 

A provision to require the Minister for Health to take steps to ensure that pregnant women have access to full and reliable information on the provision of services for termination of pregnancy in accordance with the legislation, and to empower the Minister to adopt regulations governing the conduct of pregnancy counselling agencies.

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