Magazine article Conscience

Death of 31-Year-Old Woman in Irish Hospital Spurs Change in Abortion Laws

Magazine article Conscience

Death of 31-Year-Old Woman in Irish Hospital Spurs Change in Abortion Laws

Article excerpt

THE TRAGIC DEATH OF 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who was allegedly denied an abortion at Galway's University Hospital in October, brought Ireland's restrictive abortion laws to the center of the world stage. Protests sparked by the incident coincided with the November release of the Irish Expert Group Report, which examined methods for the government "to implement the European Court of Human Rights judgment in light of the X case and the requirements of the Constitution." The X case dealt with a 14-year-old girl, pregnant as a result of rape, who was prevented from seeking an abortion abroad even though she was suicidal.

In keeping with the pledge for swift action made by Prime Minister Enda Kenny's administration, Health Minister James Reilly said that lawmakers were expected to vote on an abortion bill by summer 2013, the first time that Irish parliamentarians have ever voted on the issue, according to the Associated Press. While the legislation will only allow abortion in cases where a woman's life is in danger--as opposed to her health--this may be interpreted as including the risk of suicide.

There is support for abortion being made available under other circumstances. In November, two Dublin councils called on the state to implement the X case, and the motion in South Dublin came with what Councilor Chris Bond described as wide support for the idea that women who had been raped had the right to access abortion services. A similar action was carried by the Fingal County Council, according to the Irish Times. …

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