Thursday, 26 September 2019

Questions (123)

Hildegarde Naughton


123. Deputy Hildegarde Naughton asked the Minister for Health the progress to date in implementing the recommendations of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, namely, the provision of exclusion zones and the availability of free contraception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39115/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy may be aware exclusion zones were not part of the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, however, it is my intention that people can access termination of pregnancy services safely. I wish to assure women and healthcare staff that there is existing legislation in place to protect them and to protect patients.

My Department and An Garda Síochána have also been closely monitoring the situation since the service commenced in January. I recently met with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to discuss the issues.

The result of the referendum last year gave the Government a strong mandate to introduce termination of pregnancy services and it remains my priority that the legislation is fully implemented so that all women in Ireland can access these services quickly and easily, without bias or judgment.

I established a Working Group to examine the various policy, regulatory and legislative issues arising in relation to improving access to contraception. The Group has recently held a public consultation exercise and has engaged directly with numerous stakeholders. It is currently preparing a report, which I understand will be submitted for my consideration shortly.