Irish lawmakers aim to fast-track repeal of abortion law

By Susan McFarland  |  May 29, 2018 at 11:47 AM
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May 29 (UPI) -- Political parties in Ireland are uniting to reform the country's abortion law after a referendum last week showed overwhelming support for change.

Irish health minister Simon Harris said a bill to allow unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks of pregnancy will be sent to President Michael Higgins by the fall.

Friday, more than 66 percent of voters supported repealing Ireland's 35-year-old abortion law, which bans the practice outright in all cases except those that endanger the mother's life.

Harris said he will brief lawmakers Tuesday on a proposal to fast-track the legislation to reform Ireland's Eighth Amendment, and plans to meet with opposition leaders later this week.

Meanwhile, pressure is increasing for British Prime Minister Theresa May to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of Britain on the issue. Abortion is illegal there in all but the most extreme circumstances.

In Britain, Scotland and Wales, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks and beyond if there is a serious threat to the mother's life or in cases of serious fetal disability.

May's office said the vote was "an impressive show of democracy," but added Britain will remain focused on restoring Northern Ireland's "devolved administration which has been absent since January 2017."

"It is important to recognize the people of Northern Ireland are entitled to their own process run by locally elected politicians," May's office said.

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