Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Department of Health
Ensuring access to termination of pregnancy services remains an ongoing priority for the Department of Health.
It was originally intended to provide for safe access to termination of pregnancy services in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018. However, a number of legal issues were identified which necessitated further consideration.
Since services under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 commenced in January 2019, there has been a limited number of reports of protests or other actions relating to termination of pregnancy. This is an extremely positive development. It suggests that these services have bedded in relatively smoothly to date and are becoming a normal part of the Irish healthcare system, as intended.
Where problems do arise with protests outside healthcare services, there is existing public order legislation in place to protect people accessing services, staff and local residents.
The Department of Health has liaised with An Garda Síochána on safe access to services. The Garda National Protective Services Bureau issued a notice to all Garda Stations raising awareness about the issue. It directed that any protests be monitored, and breaches of existing law dealt with. The Department has provided information on existing public order and other relevant legislation to the HSE for appropriate distribution.
Termination of pregnancy services have continued to function during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is regular ongoing engagement between my Department and the HSE to facilitate the smooth-running of the service and to resolve any issues that may arise.