Irish Government to change abortion law

Published Tuesday, 18 December 2012
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The Irish Government has announced its intention to introduce a combination of legislation and regulations on abortion.

Irish Government to change abortion law
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore says the legislation will be based on the X Case ruling. (© Getty)

The announcement comes after lobbying for legislation for the X case, which campaigned for abortion where the woman's life is threatened, including by suicide.

The case happened 20 years ago and involved a teenager who became pregnant after
being raped.

A High Court banned her from going to England for a termination, despite having suicidal thoughts.

The Supreme Court eventually ruled that despite abortion being illegal in Ireland, a woman had the right to seek a termination if her life was in danger, but no legislation was ever put in place.

The campaign was put in the spotlight again last month, after a dentist suffering a miscarriage died at a Galway hospital when she was allegedly refused an abortion.

In the new year, the Oireachtas Health Committee will hold a series of public hearings ahead of the framing of legislation.

At this stage I don't think it is wise for anyone to pre-empt exactly what will be in the legislation or regulations.

Eamon Gilmore

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it is too early to say what will be in the legislation but it will be based on the X case ruling.

He said: "The legislation will obviously have to be within the terms of the constitution, and will also have to be within the terms of the supreme court judgement on the X case which as you recall was a cause which involved suicide."

Choice Ireland spokesperson Stephanie Lord said that the X case ruling means that the Irish government must introduce a provision for suicide in any legislation.

"The next step should be the introduction of a referendum bill that will repeal the 8th amendment.

"It is inhumane that this has not happened before now. There are 4,500 women that travel overseas for abortion services every year, and many more that order pills online to induce abortions at home.

"Women have a right to make the best choice for them under their circumstances, and their right to health care must also be upheld. It is now time to introduce free, safe, and legal abortion on demand in Ireland."

The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland issued a joint statement on Tuesday night in response to the government's decision.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin; Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel & Emly; and Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam said the decision to legislate "should be of the utmost concern to all."

The statement read:"If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed. It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances."

It continued:"The decision of the Supreme Court in the 'X' case unilaterally overturned the clear pro-life intention of the people of Ireland as expressed in Article 40.3.3 of our Constitution. To legislate on the basis of such a flawed judgement would be both tragic and unnecessary.

"The dignity of the human person and the common good of humanity depend on our respect for the right to life of every person from the moment of conception to natural death."

The Archbishops said that the right to life is the most fundamental of all rights.

"It is the very basis for every other right we enjoy as persons."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Vee in Belfast wrote (771 days ago):
A country who murders its own children is a country denying itself a future! Is this really what Ireland wants? There is no reason ever to allow killing of babies in the womb. Abortion is murder and 2 wrongs do not make a right!
Marie in Co. Antrim wrote (772 days ago):
This legislation will serve no purpose. Of all the abortions carried out in the UK on Irish women, not one was to save the life of the mother. It's also interesting to note the use of the word 'mother' - surely those who favour abortion as an option don't view the pregnant woman as a mother if all she is carrying is a 'clump of cells' or it is 'her own body.'
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