Health Committee scrutinising legislation to allow for abortion

By Elaine Loughlin
Political Correspondent

The Health Committee has started scrutinising legislation to allow for abortion in this country.

Members of the Committee have discussed amendments to make greater provision for transgender people, to change the Bill to include the word abortion and to allow nurses and other health workers administer terminations.

More than 180 amendments have been tabled to the legislation with the Committee getting through 12 amendments this morning.

A number of amendments were tabled to change references to pregnant females or pregnant women to a pregnant person in order to make the legislation fully inclusive.

Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly said many nurses and midwives have contacted her who want to be part of the delivery of service.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he would be open to expanding those permitted to administer terminations but couldn't agree to the amendment "at this time".

However, he said that in the future it may be possible to expand this out to include nurses or other medical practitioners.

"We are starting a new service which hasn't been provided in this country before," he told the Committee.

Mr Harris said he hopes an amendment to allow for a review of the legislation in the future would pass and expanding those who are permitted to provide termination of pregnancy could be examined at that point.

Solidarity-PBP TD Brid Smith said she thought the Minister and Department would have "welcomed" the extension given the crisis in recruiting and retaining GPs around the country.

While Ruth Coppinger pointed out that when a woman is pregnant she more regularly sees a nurse and not a doctor, but the service is GP lead.

Mattie McGrath said the amendment would "reduce the level and standard of care" that people anticipated when they voted in the referendum.

Scruiting of the Bill is expected to take at least three days.

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