The Department of Health has published a policy paper setting out the measures it proposes to introduce in legislation if the proposed referendum on Article 40.3.3 is passed.

Health Risk

It proposes to legislate for abortion where there is a risk to the health as well as the life of the pregnant woman, with no distinction between the risks to physical or mental health of a woman.

Two medical practitioners would be required to assess access to termination of pregnancy on the grounds of a health risk.In an emergency situation - where there is a health risk to the pregnant woman - it is proposed that one medical practitioner would terminate a pregnancy.

Foetal condition

The legislation would allow for the termination of pregnancy where a foetal condition is likely to lead to death before, or shortly after, birth. Two appropriate medical practitioners would be required to enable access to terminations in such circumstances.

12 weeks

The bill would allow for termination of pregnancy in the first 12 weeks of gestation, "without specific indication". A time period would be required to elapse between the initial assessment by a medical practitioner and the termination of pregnancy being carried out.

Gestational limits

There would be no gestational time limit on the termination of a pregnancy for a foetal condition which is likely to lead to death before, or shortly after birth, or on maternal health grounds.

Duties of the Minister for Health and the HSE

The bill would require the Minister for Health to be notified about the termination of a pregnancy. An annual report will also be published on the terminations of pregnancy in the preceding year.

A formal review process will be established to ensure timely access to termination of pregnancy services.

The HSE would also be required to prepare a report each year of reviews undertaken the preceding year in defined circumstances.

Conscientious objection

Similar to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which was introduced in 2013, any new legislation would allow for conscientious objection by medical professionals.

Unlawful terminations

The termination of pregnancy outside of the provisions of the new legislation would be unlawful. However, a pregnant woman who seeks to procure an abortion herself would not be criminalised.

Retaining the right to travel

There would be a clause in the new legislation to state that nothing would limit or interfere with the right to travel or information.