Proposals to stop public money paying for abortion services shot down by Health Committee

By Elaine Loughlin, political correspondent

Latest: Proposals to stop the State paying for abortions except where the woman's life is at risk have been shot down at the Health Committee.

Former Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan put forward an amendment to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which stated that no public money would be provided for terminations other than cases where there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman.

Carol Nolan TD
Carol Nolan TD

Responding to the amendment Simon Harris asks if it would right to send women who have been raped or suffered a fatal foetal abnormality a medical bill.

"Here's some breaking news: women are taxpayers too," he told the Health Committee.

This is about free, safe and legal, if it is not free it will still be legal but it will not be safe.

"I am not going to discriminate against two women, the only difference between them is one woman's choice," he said of the amendment.

Mr Harris added: "I thought Ireland had moved to a better place in that regard."

A number of TDs including Mr Nolan, Peter Fitzpatrick and Margaret Murphy O'Mahony citing the already stretched healthcare system and the funding crisis in our hospitals.

But Mr Harris said the funding for abortion services will be far from "generous and flaithulach" as the amount allocated is just 0.0007% of the total Health budget.

Hitting out at Mr Harris, Ms Nolan said the Minister had bowed to pressure. "There is no need to behave like a frightened schoolboy," she said.

Sinn Fein's Louise O'Reilly asked that Ms Nolan, her former party colleague, to "consider the pregnant rape victim in direct provision".

"I think this amendment is very regrettable" she said asking that it be withdrawn.

While Bernard Durkin said it would be a "travesty" if the service is not funded by the taxpayer.

Brid Smith asked why the amendment had not been ruled out of order when two separate amendments which to allow women living in Northern Ireland to access services here had been struck out.

The Committee also passed a motion that would allow for a review of the legislation not later than five year after the commence.

A number of TDs including Fine Gael's Kate O'Connell said five years was too long to wait for a review and it was indicated that this would be reduced to three years by the minister at report stage.

Discussion of the 181 amendments continues.

'Women are taxpayers': Health Minister rejects suggestion that no public money be used for abortion services

The Minister for Health has strongly rejected suggestions that NO public money be used to pay for abortion services.

Proposed new legislation to regulate terminations is being debated over the next 3 days at the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Members are going through the wording line by line and considering 180 amendments.

Former Sinn Fein TD Carol Nolan, now an Independent, wants no public money to be spend providing abortions.

Minister Simon Harris says women pay tax too.

"Here's some breaking news, women are taxpayers. This is about providing services for women so when we keep talking about taxpayers it's not a clear and distinct group of people that is different to the group of people who will benefit from this.

"I thought it was the policy of the party that you were in, I think it is the policy of most people in this Oireachtas, it's certainly the policy of SlainteCare...that we're going to move towards universality."

'You don't need a doctor to have an abortion' claims Coppinger at Health Committee

Update 1.30pm: It is claimed doctors are not needed to provide abortions in Ireland.

There are calls for nurses and midwives to be included in new laws to regulate terminations following last May’s referendum.

Almost 200 amendments have been put forward by TDs to the Health Minister's proposed Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

Oireachtas Health Committee members are going through the proposed wording line by line.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger says other medical professionals can provide the service.

"In France for example, midwives participate in abortions," said Ms Coppinger.

"You don't need a doctor to have an abortion.

"There's 10 people a day leaving the country obviously, but there's also up to five others who are using abortion pills through telly medicine sites. We've already had that testified.

"The reason I think it's important is, we need to emphasise abortion is a very simple, very simple, procedure. "

- Digital Desk

Earlier: Debates on abortion legislation to begin at Oireachtas Health Committee

Marathon debates on the new abortion legislation begin today at the Oireachtas Health Committee.

It is a chance for TDs to bring amendments to the proposed new laws.

Almost 200 amendments have been put forward by lawmakers to the Health Minister's proposed legislation.

The suggested changes are to be debated at three marathon sittings of the Oireachtas Health Committee over the next few days.

They include a number from the pro-life TD lobby.

A group of eight TDs have called for it to be put into law that a woman seeking an abortion should be offered an ultrasound image of the foetus or to listen to its heartbeat.

They also say the remains of any aborted foetus should be buried or cremated after the procedure.

The group has also sought for abortions to be banned if they are sought because of the sex or race of the baby, or if there is a disability involved.

Independent TD Carol Nolan has an amendment calling for no public money to be used to roll out abortion services.

Simon Harris is bringing a change himself to allow a review of the legislation within 5 years to see how it has operated and if any issues have arisen.

Very few of the other proposed amendments are likely to be accepted by the Minister.

The hearings start this morning and will run throughout the week.

- Digital Desk



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