Search icon


14th Jun 2017

Minister For Health Aims For Abortion Referendum To Take Place Next Year


Minister for Health Simon Harris has expressed his desire for a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the Constitution to be held next year.

The Irish Times reports that Mr Harris was speaking yesterday after the news that the United Nations ruled Ireland’s abortion laws are violating human rights following the case won by Siobhán Whelan, who was forced to travel to the UK for an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality in her 20th week of pregnancy.

Mr Harris said that the UN report was under review by his department and that a formal submission would be prepared. 

He also said that he believed the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities needs to be addressed by this Government.

“I have met with families who have been through the trauma of knowing their baby will not survive and I have been very moved by hearing of their experiences,” he told The Irish Times.

“There can hardly be a more difficult situation for a woman who is pregnant to face than to be told by her doctor that her unborn child is not fully healthy and well, and is not likely to survive.

“These families have had the courage and fortitude to share their stories in the hope of saving other people some of the pain they themselves endured.”

Simon Harris added that there is now an “urgency” to establish an Oireachtas committee to examine the eighth amendment, although work must wait for the delivery of the Citizen’s Assembly report over the next few weeks.

The committee will be given three months to hear evidence from the Citizen’s Assembly and will then make a recommendation whether a referendum should be held.