The review, of this important piece of legislation, has all of the hallmarks of a rush job
It is deeply regrettable that the Health Minster has failed to appoint an independent expert to head a review of abortion legislation in advance of that review commencing, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.
“In March, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly informed the cabinet that he was commencing a review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act. In August, the Minister said the review would begin in a matter of weeks and an independent expert would be appointed to lead that review.
“Today, at the Health Committee, the Minister said the review was now commencing – but the independent expert has yet to be appointed. In fact, a tendering process, to appoint the head of the review, has yet to even begin. This is deeply regrettable.
“The review, of this important piece of legislation, has all of the hallmarks of a rush job. The terms of reference were only published online this morning – while the Minister was before the Committee, meaning members were not able to examine them before his appearance.
“The Minister also gave conflicting information about the process. At one point, he was adamant that the law was immune from review. Separately, the Minister told me that service users would have the ability to recommend changes to the law as part of their submissions.
“The passage of this legislation was a momentous occasion for this country and it has made a huge improvement to the lives of thousands of women. But, there are ongoing problems relating to accessibility that need to be examined as part of this review. Clearly, the operation of the law needs to be reviewed – but the operation of the law is informed by the legislation. Therefore, the operation of the policy and the law are inextricably linked.
“The Minister should confirm his willingness to amend the law if there is a strong view, from service users and providers during the consultation process, that its operation is being hindered.”
8 December, 2021