herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

Foetal abnormality case women may get €5k for treatment

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

Women whose babies are diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities could receive up to €5,000 to help cover costs associated with having an abortion abroad.

Health Minister Simon Harris is examining the possibility as a measure that could be introduced before next January, when abortions are expected to be allowed in Ireland.

Forced

Mr Harris asked Department of Health officials to examine the possibility of financial support before a meeting with the Termination For Medical Reasons (TFMR) campaign group.

The organisation had been campaigning for abortions to be carried out in Ireland due to the experiences of couples forced to travel abroad for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

It is understood that Mr Harris offered no firm commitment to the organisation on financial support, but the matter will be considered over the coming weeks.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Harris said fatal foetal abnormality cases helped inform his own views on abortion.

"I am looking to see if we can provide financial support or assistance to that group in the short-term," he told TV3.

"We know that every week about two to three women and their partners leave this country on the grounds of fatal foetal abnormality."

There have also been calls for a 1995 ban on doctors referring women seeking an abortion to the UK to be lifted.

Attorney General Seamus Woulfe has agreed to review the law, which pro-choice campaigners say is out of date after last week's referendum.

Update

Under the 1995 Abortion Information Act, doctors are not allowed to make medical referrals to clinics or hospitals in the UK.

There have also been calls for abortion to be decriminalised before the change in the law to allow terminations here.

The Government has warned that such measures could delay the overall legislation, but Mr Harris will update the opposition on such proposals in two weeks' time.

President Michael D Higgins is expected to formally sign an order repealing the Eighth Amendment next week.

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