1. ITV Report

Abortion bill completes passage through the Seanad

(Niall Carson/PA) Photo:

A bill to legalise abortions in Ireland has passed through all its parliamentary stages.

The proposed legislation completed its passage through the upper house, the Seanad, on Thursday evening after a marathon debate.

It will now go to president Michael D Higgins to be formally signed into law, ahead of coming into effect in January.

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The new laws, which passed through the Dail lower house last week, will allow for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to a cooling off period and a requirement for medical consultation.

After 12 weeks abortions will be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

The legislation will give effect to the result of a referendum in May.

The poll delivered landslide support for the repeal of a section of the state’s constitution – the Eight Amendment – that provided the legal basis for the country’s near blanket ban on abortion.

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Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the passage of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill through the houses of the Oireachtas parliament.

“This is a genuinely historic moment,” he said.

“It paves the way for the implementation of the service for termination of pregnancy in January 2019.

“I would like to acknowledge my colleagues in the Oireachtas for their co-operation, their thoughtful contributions and for the long hours everyone has put in to see it through.

“I want to thank the campaigners who fought for 35 years to change a nation, to change hearts and minds. I want to thank the minority who fought the battle in here when it was convenient for the majority to ignore.

“But today, I think mostly of the thousands of women who were forced to make the journey to access care that should have been available in their own country.”