The legislation to allow abortions to happen in Ireland has been passed by TDs.
It was approved during a late night sitting of the Dáil and now goes to the Seanad for final sign off before it becomes law.
Just before midnight TDs gathered in the Dáil chamber for a final vote to approve the proposed abortion legislation.
It followed a mammoth 8-hour sitting yesterday to get through the final amendments to the bill.
TDs approved the legislation by 90 votes to 15 with 12 abstentions.
It will now go to the Seanad today for final approval – which the government is hopeful can happen next week.
After that the bill will become law, allowing abortions to take place in Ireland from the 1st of January.
Health Minister Simon Harris has described it as a significant step towards bringing in abortion services and said he looks forward to a time in the near future when women with a crisis pregnancy can get treatment at home.
Speaking as the debate in the Dáil concluded, the Minister said: “We pass this Bill today just six months after the people had their say.
“I would particularly like to thank all those people who recognised the need for our discourse to be respectful of differing views, and of the sensitivities involved, particularly for those who have experienced termination of pregnancy.
“I can only imagine how the intensity of debate during the campaign and since then has felt for women who have themselves travelled abroad for a termination over many years.”
Mr Harris added: “On May 25th, the people said ‘No More’. We cannot turn back the clock but what we can do is ensure a new era for Irish women. One which values women, respects the decisions they make and cares for them in their own country.
“I look forward to a time – not far away now – when we will be able to assure women experiencing crisis pregnancies that they will be looked after here at home, where they need not fear that they will be stigmatised for their choices or lack the support they and their families need from our health service.
“I also look forward to being able to assure our doctors, nurses and midwives that they can be confident in the decisions they are helping their patients to make and in providing the care their patients require.
“I now look forward to working closely with my colleagues in the Seanad to discuss the legislation and move closer to making that new Ireland a reality.”
There are still some questions about what scale of a service will be in place in January with a very short time between the passing of the legislation and doctors being asked to implement it.
Clinical guidelines are being prepared behind the scenes and some doctors willing to provide the service will be trained in the coming weeks.
However it is likely whatever service is in place in January will be somewhat limited at first as the medical system catches up with the legislation.
The Abortion Rights Campaign has welcomed last night’s vote calling it “a momentous step towards achieving abortion rights in Ireland” but say it remains troubled at numerous provisions contained within the Bill.
“We, as activists, have spent years fighting for accessible, accountable and evidence-based legislation to provide abortion care,” said Linda Kavanagh, spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign.
“We are extremely disappointed to see that so many valid improvements to the legislation were voted down, on shaky grounds, to the detriment of pregnant people across Ireland.
“We have steadfastly highlighted the problems with the legislation throughout this process.
“We will continue to fight for access to free, safe, legal and local abortion services for all those who need it on the island of Ireland.”
Commenting on last night’s vote in the Dáil, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson, Dr Ruth Cullen said: “The public voted to remove the Eighth Amendment.
“They never gave their backing to this extreme abortion bill.
“The Government is now deceptively using the vote of the people as cover for what in time will be regarded as one of the most extreme abortion laws anywhere in the world.”
Dr Cullen added: “But one thing is certain. We will never give up the fight in defence of life. Abortion is deeply unjust and destructive. It will not win in the end.”