Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018

Author: Sineád Taaffe and Kevin Walsh

October 2, 2018

The Government approved the text of the Health Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill on Thursday, 27 September 2018.

The Bill follows the result of the Referendum held in May 2018 when the electorate voted to amend the Constitution and repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The Bill provides that abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy will be legal. A termination of pregnancy shall not be carried out in accordance with this part of the Bill unless a period of not less than 3 days has elapsed from the date of certification by the medical practitioner.

The Bill also makes provision for the termination of pregnancy outside the 12 week period where two medical practitioners certify that, in their reasonable opinion, formed in good faith:

  1. there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the mother
  2. the foetus has not reached viability, and
  3. it is appropriate to carry out the termination of pregnancy in order to avert the risk to the mother outlined above.

In respect of point number 1 above, the legislation defines the term “health” as physical or mental health.

Of the two certifying medical practitioners, one must be an obstetrician and the other an “appropriate medical practitioner”, which is defined as “a medical practitioner appropriate to the care or treatment of the woman in respect of the risk”.

The termination of pregnancy in emergency cases is also provided for where:

• there is an immediate risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant woman, and

• it is immediately necessary to carry out the termination of pregnancy in order to avert that risk.

The legislation makes provision for termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. The legislation specifies that termination of pregnancy may be carried out when two medical practitioners certify that there is present a condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth.

The Bill is scheduled to be placed before the Dáil for debate this week.

The General Scheme of the Bill can be accessed here.

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