The Dáil is considering to sit until midnight tonight to facilitate debate on the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

An amendment on Parental notification or consent from anti-abortion TDs, which was introduced in the Dáil last night, was rejected tonight.

The Independent Deputy Peadar Tóibín said the Minister for Health couldn't identify a clear legal basis for doctors having to notify parents for a minor under 16 having an abortion.

The Independent Deputy Michael Collins said people can't join the army, make a contract, get teeth whitened, or use a sunbed under 18 without consent.

He questioned why a daughter should be allowed to end the life of "your grandchild, maybe under 18 without you knowing".

It was noted by the Fianna Fáil Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív that the Minister had already pointed out that parental notification exists in the medical guidelines.

He suggested that if elected representatives were against the idea of notification guidelines,  they should campaign to take it out of the Medical Council guidelines.

Dr Michael Harty of the Rural Independent Group said he couldn't imagine a GP prescribing an abortive medicine to a young girl without consulting her parents.

He pointed out that GPs will have to use judgement, adding that autonomy is a foundation of medical ethics.

The Minister for Health rejected the amendment, pointing out that the age of consent is the same as for other medical treatments.

Simon Harris cited current legislation and guidelines in existence when minors are in question apart from in exceptional circumstances.

It was put to a vote and defeated by 69 votes to 21.

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Conscientious objection amendments rejected

The Minister for Health has refused to accept amendments to the abortion legislation on the issue of conscientious objection.

Simon Harris told the Dáil that there are many doctors ready and willing to provide the service.

He said he would defend conscientious objection "forever to anyone", however he said he would not stand over conscientious obstruction.

"We had a referendum on women and women's healthcare and maybe we should think about the woman", he said.

A number of TDs also raised concerns around the conscientious objection of pharmacists. 

The Fianna Fáil Deputy John Brassil, who is a pharmacist, said further protection was required.

He said if health care professionals want to opt out they should be able to do so without fear of legislative challenges.

"There is in some elements of the house a rush to get this over the line", he said.

The Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell, who is also a pharmacist, said normal procedures for GPs getting medicines into their surgeries - via a stock order from the pharmacist of their choice - will apply.

She said if doctors do not want to provide terminations of pregnancy, "there will be plenty" of pharmacists to go to.

Independent Deputy Peadar Tóibín, who is calling for an opt-in service for doctors, said consultation on legislation over hedge cutting would take a year.

He said doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are concerned about the service have been denied a consultation with the Minister regarding abortion services.

Deputy Tóibín also said some nurses and midwives are being asked to reassess their values through "values workshops" which are currently being rolled out.

Regarding the comment on hedge cutting the Solidarity People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith responded saying,"give me a break".

She said the debate was getting ridiculous and inhumane.

Deputy Smith said the bill is about transferring pregnant women and that could mean to the 24/7 helpline.

The Minister added two amendments of his own to the group of amendments being discussed.

He has sought that student nurses and midwives who have a conscientious objection will be included.

The Minister said conscientious objection is a long established and important principle in the country.

"I defend that right, but I defend the right of women to access health care in this country", he said.

Minister Harris said there are some people that want to "stimy and delay" this.

"Unnecessary showdown" with doctors - Healy Rae

Independent TD Danny Healy Rae said the Minister had created an unnecessary showdown with doctors over the provision of abortion services.

During this evening’s debate on amendments relating to conscientious objection for medical practitioners, Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick said GPs should have an opt-in system and provision of abortion should not become a standard part of GP practices.  

Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler said freedom of conscience was a fundamental right, and she believed medical practitioners had genuine concerns, which could lead to them leaving the health service.

However, Solidarity-PBP Ruth Coppinger rejected the suggestion of an opt-in system for GPs providing termination's, saying this could leave them open to being be targeted.

She also rejected assertions that there was a "showdown with GPs", adding that there would be enough doctors to provide the service.  

Sinn Féin's Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly said while conscientious objection allows a medical practitioner not to be a provider of termination, they must refer a patient on, and anything less would "fall below what is required".