Summer target for abortion reforms
New laws reforming the limited ban on abortion could be in place by the summer, Health Minister Dr James Reilly has revealed.
The minister said he wants the abortion debate resolved as quickly as possible and expects draft legislation to be ready by Easter.
"I think in an ideal world that is what I would like to see. But I can't foresee all the difficulties and potholes along the road from here and there," Dr Reilly said.
"But certainly we have mapped from then to now as to what needs to be done. This is a hugely complex piece of legislation, which is clearly an emotive issue for so many people."
Dr Reilly has been given a 1,000-page report from a parliamentary health committee which held three days of hearings on the proposed legislation at the start of January.
The report included the views of numerous medical and legal experts, leaders from the Catholic Church and other advocacy group representatives who attended the public meetings.
Dr Reilly said the report would be "hugely informative" to the Government as it completes the draft legislation, which will allow for abortion in cases where a woman's life is in danger, including the risk of suicide.
He said the Department of Health was working hard to ensure the draft legislation is published by Easter. A memo will be sent to the Government next week concerning policy issues that have been raised.
Dr Reilly said that the three days of hearings, held by the Joint Committee on Health and Children, had been extremely helpful for both the Government and the public.
During the hearings, the Catholic Church expressed its stark opposition to the legislation and urged another abortion referendum to examine the X-case Supreme Court judgment.