Law Allowing Limited Abortion Passes First Vote in Ireland

The Irish Parliament voted to support a bill that would allow a pregnancy to be terminated if the woman’s life is at risk. After a vote of 138 to 24 it now faces a second reading and possible amendments. The final vote on the legislation will take place next week. Ireland has had a constitutional ban on abortion since 1986, meaning that the lives of the woman and the unborn fetus are defined equally under the law. This new bill would allow abortions for women who are suicidal and at risk of ending their lives because of the continuation of the pregnancy. The consent of three doctors would be required prior to the abortion. The Catholic Church is criticizing the bill because they believe that the suicide-threat rule is too vague and therefore at risk of being abused. Ireland’s absolute abortion ban came under international scrutiny last year when a woman died after being denied an abortion. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of severe back pain in October 2012. Hospital staff determined she was miscarrying, however doctors refused to remove the pregnancy until three days later. After the pregnancy was removed, Savita was transferred to intensive care where she died three days later of what was determined to be septicaemia (similar to blood poisoning).


Boston Globe, 7/3/2013; BBC News, 7/2/2013; Telegraph, 7/2/2013; Feminist Newswire 11/14/2012

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