MEPs sign 'abortion change' letter

Published Sunday, 18 November 2012
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Over 50 members of the European Parliament have joined forces to call on the Irish government to change the country's abortion legislation.

MEPs sign 'abortion change' letter
Savita Halappanavar, who died in hospital last month. (© The Irish Times)

The politicians have all signed a letter addressed to Taoiseach Enda Kenny requesting "urgent action" following the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant woman who died in hospital after suffering a miscarriage and septicaemia.

Her husband Praveen is claiming she died after reportedly being refused a medical termination at Galway University Hospital.

He insists her requests were denied because there was a foetal heartbeat present. She died on Sunday, 28 October.

Irish MEP Paul Murphy has put forward the letter, which describes the politicians' shock at learning of the death.

"We express our deep sympathy to her family and friends.

"This tragedy highlights the need for immediate action to introduce legislation for abortion in Ireland."

It continued: In order to give support and legal clarity for health care professionals we call on the Irish authority responsible for the health service, the Health Service Executive (HSE), to immediately issue a directive allowing for immediate terminations of unviable foetuses to save women from severe pain and protect their health and life."

The letter went on to state: "Ms. Halappanavar is now the victim of this inaction."

"We feel that the Irish government should immediately bring forth legislation to permit abortion in cases where the mother's life or health is endangered as a first step towards the establishment of women's right to choose in Ireland."

The letter is also signed by Mikael Gustafsson MEP, Chair of the women's Rights and Equality committee. A total of 53 politicians from 15 countries across Europe have signed the document.

The development emerged as plans were outlined for an International Day of Protest on Wednesday with demonstrations at Irish embassies around the world.

Thousands took part in candlelight vigils across Ireland on Saturday in memory of Mrs Halappanavar. There were also services in Europe and America.

Meanwhile, a leading Irish obstetrician has called for clear guidance on pregnancy intervention.

Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, a consultant obstetrician at Dublin's National Maternity hospital, said:"Where we are at the moment is that if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, intervention in pregnancy is permissible.

"Now however there is no legislation to guide us as to what constitutes a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother."

Appearing on Thursday's UTV Live Tonight programme, Prof McAuliffe stated that guidance would be welcomed over instances when the risk to a pregnant woman's life "is less immediate and less dramatic."

"This is a grey area for us," she added.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Ryan in Belfast wrote (703 days ago):
@Nick in Belfast. Nick, do you think that if abortion was made legal in Ireland that people would stop doing lone abortions? No. And why do people always think that only religious people are against abortion? Many non-religious and atheist people have condemmed abortion and are pro life, its just a narrow minded view to thinkk only religous people oppose abortion. Keep abortion out of Ireland, every child has a right to life, the rights of a child are frankly being ignored by those who are pro-abortion and thats just wrong.
Linda in NI wrote (704 days ago):
This was a young woman who was losing her baby and everyone has a right to life man, woman and child. No govt wants to legislate for abortion whether for or against because it is to controversial. If this issue affected men it would have been sorted a long time ago.
angela in belfast wrote (705 days ago):
every woman has the right to her life also ryan. this death may not have happened if people would stop playing god and forcing their own opinions on others. if you are entitled to your own opinion on abortion then please remember that others are also, especially the women who are pregnant.
Nick in Belfast wrote (705 days ago):
So Ryan its ok for roughly 6000 women a year to have abortions as long as it's not in Ireland? It's ok for a large amount of women to order the pill and abort alone without medical support as long as we all ignore it and these women suffer in silence? Abortion happens whether we like it or not. The best way to prevent abortion is education and provision of contraception. Banning hasn't worked.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (705 days ago):
Keep abortion OUT of Ireland! Every child has the right to life. Only in certain circumstances should abortion be allowed.
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