Dáil passes historic bill to legalise abortion services in Ireland
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Dáil passes historic bill to legalise abortion services in Ireland

A BILL to legalise abortion services in Ireland has been approved by the Dáil, six months on from the historic referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill will proceed to the Seanad after it passed all stages at Dáil Éireann last night by 90 votes to 15, with 12 absentions.

It followed hours of debate and more than 60 amendments to the bill, which is the most significant step towards abortion legalisation since the referendum on May 25 and the removal of the constitutional ban on terminations on September 18.

Health Minister Simon Harris, a key supporter of the Repeal the Eighth campaign, tweeted: "Tonight Dáil Éireann has passed legislation to legalise abortion in Ireland. On to the Seanad now.

"I think of all the women who have had to travel to receive care - we say, no more. The people have spoken. Care and compassion in our own country".

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Abortion Rights Campaign activist Linda Kavanagh said: "This legislation has been a long time coming.

"The people of Ireland have been fighting for over 35 years to access abortion at home.

"Since Ireland’s decisive yes vote on May 25th, more than 1,650 people have travelled overseas for an abortion and over 550 have imported safe, but illegal, abortion pills. The cruel reality of the 8th Amendment continues."

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill allows for abortion services to be provided "on demand" up to the 12th week of pregnancy from January 2019.

There have been several minor changes to the legislation since it was first introduced in October, including plans for a review after three years rather than five years as originally planned.

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Two different doctors will be allowed to assess a mother in early pregnancy and the offences section has been moved from the front of the bill.

The legislation will now be deliberated in the Seanad Éireann.