“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier,” Ireland’s health minister said about the country’s new policy to allow abortions in the country.

The health minister of Ireland, Simon Harris, has disclosed that abortion services will be completely free in the country. Harris made the disclosure after Ireland voted to amend Ireland’s Eighth Amendment which had banned almost all abortions and only 24 hours after Ireland’s president signed off on it.

Abortion in Ireland Will be Accessible to All

According to the health minister, making abortion services free will prevent women from traveling outside the country to obtain an abortion and make sure access to abortion is not limited to private abortion clinics.

Harris emphasized that making abortion services free will ensure abortion is accessible to anyone in need of one.

“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen, you get abortion clinics to develop or you can see people having to continue to travel.

“I want this [abortion services] to be provided as part of our health care system, our public health care system and part of our primary health care system,” Harris said.

He noted that he plans for abortion to be part of the primary health care system run in Ireland and promised to introduce legislative changes to do so.

“Next week I will return to cabinet for final approval of the bill that will legislate for termination of pregnancy in certain circumstances,” Harris said in Grangegorman, Dublin. “I intend to introduce that in the Oireachtas in the first week of October, I hope we can pass it through the Oireachtas in the month of October and November.”

Pro-choice activists in Ireland have raised alarm about the bill’s three-day cooling off policy which requires anyone seeking an abortion to wait for three days. The health minister said the country’s recently concluded referendum accepted and settled the matter of the three-day period.

Rude Awakening for Pro-Life Activists

Some pro-choice activist groups, including the Pro Life Campaign, said the announcement was a rude awakening for anyone who had thought the government’s new abortion laws would be fairly restrictive. Dr. Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign said it would have been better if the government had restricted access to abortion services, but throwing it open may be counterproductive.

“It is clear Health Minister Simon Harris and others in government have no interest in hearing perspectives other than ones that zealously back abortion,” Dr. Ruth Cullen said. “It is going to take time but the public will realise the full extent of the charade that is going on when the reality of what the abortion law permits starts to sink in.”

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