Ireland Legislates for Limited Abortion After Death
Ireland’s government published outline legislation allowing for abortion in limited circumstances, including when doctors agree a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide, in what Prime Minister Enda Kenny said is an attempt to bring “clarity” to the state’s position on the practice.
Two doctors must agree a real and substantial risk to the life of a woman exists during pregnancy to approve a termination, according to government documents published in Dublin late yesterday. In cases in which risk of suicide is a factor, three doctors must agree.
“This is an issue that has been very divisive for over 30 years,” Kenny said today. “The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill will at last bring certainty to pregnant women and legal clarity to medical personnel who work within the system.”
Successive governments, fearing a backlash in a mainly Catholic nation, have avoided introducing laws to fasten down the meaning of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling granting women the right to an abortion when the mother’s life is at risk. The case of Savita Halappanavar, who died last year of septicemia after doctors decided not to carry out a termination, reignited the battle over abortion, among the most divisive issues in an increasingly secular society.