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17th Aug 2021

Ireland’s abortion laws to be reviewed by independent expert

The review has been confirmed by the Department of Health.

Ireland’s abortion laws are expected to be reviewed by an independent expert over a series of consultations in a number of weeks.

The review comes three years after Ireland voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment 66.4% to 33.6%

The Termination of Pregnancy Act has a clause which states that legislation must be reviewed three years after it’s implemented, however, an Irish Times source said that it’s unlikely the review will lead to changes.

Section 7 of the Act says: “The Minister shall, not later than 3 years after the commencement of this section, carry out a review of the operation of this Act.”

The upcoming review has been confirmed by the Department of Health, who have said that the independent expert will make recommendations to Ireland’s Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

A spokesperson for the department said: “The review is being progressed this year. At this stage it is anticipated that the review will take a three-part approach to reviewing the operation of the Act, with strands focusing on service users, service providers and a public consultation.

“Research to inform the service user and service provider strands will be commissioned and carried out independently and a public consultation will be held.”

She added: “The Minister intends to appoint an independent expert to lead the review. Upon completion, a full report with any necessary recommendations, will be submitted to the Minister for consideration.”

Additionally, Stephen Donnelly will meet with clinicians, Oireachtas members and civil society groups.

The independent review comes amid fresh calls for safe zones at Ireland’s abortion facilities. These zones, which would make it illegal for protests to take place within a specific radius of clinics, had been originally promised by the former Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Mr Donnelly has said that he is working with government officials to maintain “safe access” to abortion facilities.