The Minister for Health has outlined the approach he will be taking regarding the consideration of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill in the Seanad.

Introducing the bill this afternoon, Simon Harris acknowledged that people had different views on the legislation.

While he said the job of legislators was to scrutinise, Mr Harris said he would do what he promised the people.

The bill passed through all stages in the Dáil late last night.

TDs voted in favour of the abortion legislation by 90 votes to 15, with 12 abstentions.

The midnight vote in the Dáil came after hours of debate and more than 60 amendments. 

Mr Harris told the Seanad that he will legislate for safe access zones for abortion services.

He confirmed he has received approval from the Government to legislate for them.

The zones will ensure doctors and women can access the health service "in a safe manner".

It will be a separate stand-alone piece of health legislation which will be introduced early next year.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik became emotional during her first contribution on the bill, saying that after decades of campaigning on the issues, she felt an "overwhelming sense of relief".

Senator Bacik said 29 years ago she and her colleagues in the Trinity Students' Union were threatened with prison for giving information on abortion to pregnant women.

Ms Bacik became upset as she recalled the number of women who "rang us desperate for information" for a phone number of a clinic in England, which they could not access in pre-internet days.

She said it was unthinkable that nothing legally could be done to help women. 

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Ronán Mullen described today as one of the saddest days in the Oireachtas in recent years.

Senator Mullen described the introduction of abortion services as an Orwellian stunt.

"Politicians here want to create a notion of a right to choose that completely disregards an innocent, invisible but no-less, human creature," he said.

He expressed hope for a better day, which he said would heal the breaches created in the "destructive law" that sets men against women and mothers against children.

Earlier today, Independent Senator Michael McDowell said that adequate time should be given to the senators to deal with the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

Speaking during the Order of Business in the Seanad this morning, Senator McDowell said the Seanad is a "civilised house" where personal remarks are not normally entertained or made.

He said adequate time should be made available to deal with the legislation and no one should feel they are shouted down or rushed off the points they are making because they are unpopular or "delaying what other people want to happen".

Mr McDowell said there was no need for anger or rancour to enter the debate despite deeply held moral convictions.

"...that does not mean they have to be shoved down other members throats and I would appeal to the house in the commencement of consideration of the matter not to do so in a manner that is unseemly or uncivilized," he said.

A second independent Senator, Lynn Ruane, agreed with Mr McDowell's sentiments regarding how senators treat each other during the debate.

However, she said people needed to be aware that the public will be impacted by the comments made.

She said there was a need to think about those watching outside of the Seanad Chamber and the fact contributions will have an impact on those who, for example, may have experienced fatal foetal abnormalities.

Senator David Norris said the legislation is very complex and it would be a mistake to rush into it, particularly regarding "clinicians being rushed into it".