The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 was signed into law on 20 December 2018 and commenced on 1 January 2019. Under section 7 of the Act, a review of the operation of the Act must be initiated within three years of the commencement of the Act, i.e., before January 2022.
As I stated previously, the review will comprise a three-part approach to appraise the operation of the Act, with strands focusing on service users, service providers and a public consultation. Independent research commissioned to inform the service user and service provider strands will form key elements of the review.
Research to inform the service user strand is being carried out by Dr Catherine Conlon, Associate Professor, Trinity College, who is progressing a large qualitive study to analyse unplanned pregnancy and abortion care. The study, which was commissioned by the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme in September 2019, will generate an in-depth understanding of the experiences of women who have accessed abortion care services since the commencement of the Act.
Independent research is also being commissioned on service providers’ views on the operation of the legislation. The tender application process for this research closed in January 2022.
As the Deputy may be aware, I have appointed Ms. Marie O’Shea B.L. as the independent Chair to lead the second phase of the review of the operation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018. The independent Chair will assess the extent to which the objectives of the Act have been achieved, analysing in that regard the findings of the three strands of research to consider the effectiveness and operation of the Act. The Chair may also consult with stakeholders to gather additional information on the operation of the legislation and draw on the findings of other relevant peer-reviewed research to inform her report.