Government is Already Drafting Abortion Laws


Minister for Health Simon Harris has defended his decision to begin drafting abortion laws before the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment even finishes its work. He said the new abortion laws must be ready to go in order to facilitate Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s timetable for a referendum on the Amendment.


Health Department officials are working with the Attorney General to ensure that draft abortion laws would be ready in advance of a summer 2018 referendum, including a way to legislate for abortions of babies conceived in rape without the conviction of the rapist.


Mattie McGrath, the independent TD and one of only two of the 21 on the Oireachtas committee in favour of keeping the 8th Amendment, asked Mr Harris if he was trying to accelerate preparations for a vote while the committee was still carrying out its work. A source close to the committee said that a referendum next year was essentially a fait accompli because the vast majority of TDs and senators were in favour of repealing the Amendment.


Mr Harris said he had “great regard” for the committee, which is following the work of the Citizens’ Assembly. “My department, in conjunction with the office of the Attorney General, is seeking to explore and research the issue so that, in so far as is feasible, as much preparation as possible can be drawn upon once the special joint committee finalises its recommendations,” he said. “I am concerned that we are prepared in the event that a decision is made by the Oireachtas to hold a referendum. This will be important if we are to complete the process in line with the timetable set out by the Taoiseach.”


Mr Varadkar has said he intends to hold a referendum around June or July next year. Mr Harris has also expressed his preference for it to be before next summer.

The Times. July 31.

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