Abortion Bill creates tension in the Dáil as TDs argue over a possible 'means test' for the service 1 year ago

Abortion Bill creates tension in the Dáil as TDs argue over a possible 'means test' for the service

Abortion legislation is scheduled to pass through the Oireachtas before Christmas, but the deadline seems very tight in light of new clashes.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Health Simon Harris issued a warning to TDs deliberately trying to delay legislation passing through the Oireachtas.

A comprehensive team including consultant obstetrician Peter Boylan, together with medical colleagues from the HSE, the Medical Council, Irish Family Planning Association, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Start Doctors and the Well Woman Centre have been tasked with outlining guidelines for abortion in Ireland.

Mr Harris stressed that:

"Irish people gave a clear instruction in the referendum in May to remove the Eighth Amendment and to care for Irish women in their own country. We must act on that instruction without delay.”

In light of new clashes within the Dáil over legislation, the proposed deadline could be difficult to achieve. According to the Irish Examiner, the latest tension regarding the abortion question is whether or not public funding should be provided for the service.

If public funding is not provided, then a "means-test" might be implemented. The publication reported that Independent TD Carol Nolan said taxpayers were being asked to pay for “killing”. Ms Nolan was backed by fellow Independents Mattie McGrath and Peadar Tóibín.

Opposing this was Lisa Chambers of Fianna Fáil, who stressed that without public funding for terminations, women would be forced to remain pregnant against their will.

Compounding this, Sinn Féin's Jonathan O'Brien pointed out that seven million women are admitted to hospitals worldwide every year due to unsafe abortions.

Back in September, Simon Harris said he intended terminations to be provided for free, adamant that he did not want cost to be a "barrier" to women.