Free, Legal Abortion Bill Passes Ireland’s Lower House by a Landslide, Is Expected to Become Law
Seven months after a landmark vote overturned a nationwide ban on abortion, Ireland continued its liberal shift Wednesday with the advancement of a bill that makes the procedure free and legal across the nation,The New York Times reports.
The bill was approved in the lower house by a landslide, with a vote of 90 to 15, with lawmakers in the upper house indicating the bill would be approved by the end of the year, a timeframe in line with the government’s plan to have abortions available by January, the paper reported.
Under the proposed bill, women would be allowed to seek abortions for any reason during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy following a mandatory three-day waiting period after a consultation. Abortions after that time would be allowed when there is a serious risk to the woman’s life or health and when fatal fetal abnormalities are at play, The New York Times reported.
Ireland has a strong conservative history rooted in the Roman Catholic Church. However, as Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier this year, “a quiet revolution has taken place.”
In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by public vote and in May, 66% of Irish voters favored the elimination of a constitutional ban on abortion that has been in place since 1983.
In response to the vote, Ireland’s Catholic Bishops released a statement on Thursday admonishing the advancement of the bill, which it calls on to be resisted.
“Women’s lives, and the lives of their unborn children, are precious, valued and always deserving of protection,” the statement reads. “Any law which suggests otherwise would have no moral force. In good conscience it cannot be supported and would have to be resisted.”
According to reporting by The Times, Labour Party lawmaker Ivana Bacik says she thinks the bill would likely pass Ireland’s upper house before the government’s holiday recess, becoming law by the end of the year.