Irish abortion law 'provides clarity'

Irish abortion law 'provides clarity'

Ireland's abortion laws are not changing, but they will now provide certainty for women and doctors, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.

Members of the Irish government held lengthy discussions on the issue of pregnant women at risk of suicide.

Proposals on the Protection of Maternal Life bill would allow abortion if there is a real and substantial risk to the mother's life.

That is in line with the ruling handed down by Ireland's Supreme Court in the 1992 X case, when a 14-year-old girl who had been raped was refused permission to travel for an abortion.

On Wednesday, the Taoiseach said the bill was not an attempt to change existing laws.

"This is about women. It's about saving lives, the life of the mother and the unborn.

"This bill restates the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland. The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed. That law has been on the statute books since 1861.

Mr Kenny added: "The Protection of Life in Pregnancy bill will at last bring certainty to pregnant women and legal clarity to medical personnel who work within the system."

The agreement means an obstetrician or gynaecologist and two psychiatrists must agree that the woman is at risk of suicide.

If she is refused, the woman will then be able to appeal that decision against a second panel of three doctors.

Where the mother's life is medically at risk two doctors will be needed to consent to a termination.

The rules will also come into line with a European court decision that found a woman in remission from cancer should not have been forced to travel overseas for an abortion.

Ireland's government had come under pressure for reforms following the death of Savita Halappanavar. The Indian dentist died of sepsis in a Galway hospital last autumn. She was refused a termination during a miscarriage.

The heads of the bill will now pass to the Oireachtas for debate, after which legislation will be drafted.


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