The chairperson of the Termination for Medical Reasons group has welcomed a decision by the Minister for Health to allow doctors to refer women who have pregnancies, where there is a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, for an abortion abroad before the end of this year.

In a statement to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Simon Harris said he wants to allow certain parts of the legislation to come into effect in advance of services beginning in January.

Dr Siobhan Donohue said she welcomed the minister’s decision.

Speaking on the same programme, she said: "I think what it will mean to families is that their journeys will be a little easier.

"From what he's talking about, it's just to have a more direct path to access care in the UK.

"It's just a moment of compassion for these people to give them an option to make their journey a little bit easier."

In his statement, Mr Harris said he will look specifically at two areas of the legislation – the ability for a doctor to give information and referral, and the decriminalisation of women.