In what has been described as a 'genuinely historic moment', the Bill that allows for the introduction of abortion services in this country has passed all stages of the Oireachtas.
The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill will now go to the President, Michael D Higgins, to be signed into law.
The final stages of the Bill were passed on Thursday night after a debate lasting some nine hours. Senator Catherine Noone, who had been the chairperson of the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee, was the first to speak after its passing.
She said that it had been ‘an intense and sometimes very difficult and emotional year and a half since this process first began in the Oireachtas'. She said her thoughts were with Savita Halappanavar and all of those who have had to travel ‘in times when our laws abandoned women in this country'.
"Thankfully, our decades-old English solution to an Irish problem will come to an end once the President signs this Bill," she added.
Speaking after the Bill completed its passage in the Seanad, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, thanked his colleagues for their cooperation and contributions. He also thanked the campaigners ‘who fought for 35 years to change a nation'.
"But I think mostly of the thousands of women who were forced to make the journey to access care that should have been available in their own country. This is a genuinely historic moment. It paves the way for the implementation of the service for termination of pregnancy in January 2019," he said.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, described the passing of the Bill through all stages of the Oireachtas as a ‘historic moment for Irish women'.
The legislation permits abortions to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy; or where there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman; or where there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman in an emergency; or where there is a condition present which is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth.
*Pictured is Minister for Health, Simon Harris
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