Ireland passes legislation allowing abortion
After intense two-day debate, the Irish Parliament passed a watered-down legislation allowing abortion under limited circumstances. It would now need the approval from the Upper House.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013, Ireland:
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 would permit abortion if the mother’s life is in danger. It would also extend to women who are deemed suicidal if refused abortion. In effect, the bill simply gives effect to a 1992 Supreme Court ruling allowing doctors to perform abortion to save a mother’s life. Successive governments failed to legislate on it because of stiff opposition from the aggressive pro-life lobby.
It can be recalled that due to lack of such provisions Savita Halappanavar, a young Indian dentist, died in an Irish hospital last October after being refused abortion despite apparent risk to her life. An inquiry found that she could have been saved if doctors had agreed to her request for termination. The incident was followed by widespread outrage and protest.
About Savita Halappanavar:
Savita Halappanavar’s death has led to a widespread protests in Ireland and a call to re-look at the abortion laws.
- She was 31 year old dentist originally from Belgaum,India who moved to Ireland in 2008.
- She died on October 28, 2012 in Galway, Ireland.
- Her death led to widespread protests, in Ireland, India, England and other countries and a call to re-look at the abortion laws.
- She suffered miscarriage when she was 17 weeks pregnant.
Her husband claimed that the University College Hospital Galway where she was admitted denied her an abortion because a fetal heartbeat was present, despite the fetus being declared nonviable. This led to septicemia (blood poisoning), multiple organ failure and her death. The fetal remains were eventually removed but too much time had passed.
Why Savita Halappanavar was denied abortion at the right time when she needed it?
- Under Irish law on abortion, and Offences against the Person Act 1861 abortion is illegal in Ireland.
- As a result Irish women have to travel to UK each year to undergo abortion.
- Abortion in the Republic of Ireland is illegal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.
- However, the availability of abortion services can be even more restricted in the absence of a readily available method of determining the circumstances in which an abortion might be lawfully obtained.
- However, a judgment of the Irish Supreme Court in 1992, commonly known as the “X case”, permits abortions where the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide.
- Abortion is a controversial issue in Irish politics and five national referendums have been held on the topic in the last 30 years.
Reactions over Death of Savita Halappanavar:
- Her death led to protests by local community, and Indian community in particular.
- In India, the Ministry of External Affairs of India summoned the Irish ambassador over the issue.
- Human rights group Amnesty observed that the death of the Indian Dentist “illustrates gap in Irish law” and asked Irish government to amend its law on abortion in the with internationalhuman rights law.