Yesterday saw the conclusion of the Oireachtas Select Health three-day hearing on amendments to the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill.
The Minister for Health Simon Harris has not accepted any changes to the current proposed legislation on abortion.
The committee heard a total of 180 amendments to the abortion bill proposed by both pro-choice and anti-abortion politicians. These amendments covered a range of changes, including altering the language of the bill, pre-termination ultrasound readings and the use of public funding.
Restrictive amendments to the legislation were proposed by a number of Independent TDs, and Sinn Féin’s suspended Peadar Tóibín. The anti-abortion TDs proposed the use of ultrasound readings 24 hours before a scheduled termination as well as a “dignified disposal of foetal remains”.
Additionally, this group proposed amendments that will ensure that no medical professional will be required to carry out terminations if they have a “conscientious objection”.
Independent TD Carol Nolan proposed an amendment that opposes the use of public spending in the provision of termination services. Minister Harris described Nolan’s opposition as “discriminatory”, and added that the aim of abortion legislation is to care for women and that it is neither Nolan’s nor his own place to judge them.
A number of TDs, including Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Solidarity/People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy, advocated for amendments to the bill in order to make it trans-inclusive. Last month, McDonald stated that the language in the Termination of Pregnancy Bill must be “reflective of the diverse society in which we live”.
In response, Harris has said that he is open to meeting with members of the trans community to discuss improvements to the bill’s language, however, the Minister also cited concerns surrounding “adverse consequences for trans people in accessing services”. Moreover, Harris claimed that the parts of the legislation that refer to women and mothers could apply “seamlessly” to trans men.
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