Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly has called on the government to proceed with the legislation to govern abortion before the Dáil summer recess, as was originally planned.

He says the legislation should be debated, second stage passed and the Bill should be handed over to committee before the summer break.

Deputy Donnelly warned that hundreds of women will be forced to travel to the UK and other countries every month while the government delays the legislation.

“Last week Minister Harris changed the government timetable for this legislation and is now saying that it cannot proceed until after all of the court cases have concluded.  While the Minister believes this process could be completed by the autumn, the courts have the right to take as much time as is necessary to hear and rule on these cases and there is no guarantee that they would not run on into the new year”, said Deputy Donnelly.

“Despite the Ministers comments, it is my understanding that there is no legal impediment to proceeding with the legislation in the Oireachtas.

“Women in Ireland have been waiting more than 30 years for this cruel and harmful amendment to be repealed.  Now that the people have spoken overwhelmingly for the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion there is an onus on the government and the Minister to bring forward the legislation as a matter of urgency.  For every month that this Bill is delayed, around 300 women will be forced to travel to another country for healthcare which should be available here.  This is deplorable.

“I am calling on Minister Harris to put all his energy into ensuring that the legislation is tabled and debated in July so that it can be finalised in the autumn, as was the original plan.  I will be making every effort to secure the passage of the legislation as soon as possible.  I have serious concerns about any delay to this legislation, as I don’t believe it is necessary, and I will be questioning the Minister further on this in the coming days”, concluded Deputy Donnelly.