Ireland to clarify abortion rules within weeks

DUBLIN Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:14am IST

Andanappa Yalagi (L), father of Savita Halappanavar, is helped by a family friend as he hangs her portrait at their house in Belgaum in the southern Indian state of Karnataka November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Andanappa Yalagi (L), father of Savita Halappanavar, is helped by a family friend as he hangs her portrait at their house in Belgaum in the southern Indian state of Karnataka November 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Related Topics

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will clarify its abortion laws within weeks, the government said on Tuesday, as it strives to answer criticism over the death of Indian woman Savita Halappanavar who was refused an abortion of her dying foetus.

Abortions were banned in all circumstances in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland by a 1983 constitutional amendment. But when the ban was challenged in 1992 by a 14-year-old rape victim, the Supreme Court ruled a termination was permitted when a woman's life was at risk.

Successive governments have since failed to clarify the conditions under which the mother's life could be judged to be at risk.

"A government decision will be made in relation to this before the end of December and implemented in the new year," Health Minister James Reilly told journalists. "This issue will not be allowed to drag on."

The issue of abortion has been highlighted in the past fortnight by the death of 31-year-old Halappanavar, who was denied an abortion of her dying foetus at a hospital in Ireland and later died of blood poisoning.

The death re-ignited the abortion debate in Ireland and highlighted the lack of clarity in Irish law.

Critics say the current situation leaves doctors in the legally risky position of deciding when an abortion can be carried out.

The European Court of Human Rights said in 2010 Ireland must clarify its law, a ruling which led to the government to commission an experts' report on the issue.

The report, which was published on Tuesday, said a woman was still only lawfully entitled to an abortion in Ireland when there was a real and substantial risk to her life.

But the panel of experts said an appeal process should be set up for women who have been refused the procedure.

It said issuing non-statutory guidelines without new legislation - an option that would avoid a possible divisive vote in parliament - could leave the government's decision open to a court challenge. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-China Ties

Reuters Showcase

New U.S. Ambassador

New U.S. Ambassador

Obama to nominate Indian-American Richard Verma as India ambassador - congressional source.  Full Article 

Scottish Referendum

Scottish Referendum

Scots vote on independence, United Kingdom's fate on knife-edge.  Full Article 

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power

Developing world revives nuclear power prospects, but yet to commit.  Full Article 

India's Mars Mission

India's Mars Mission

Mars mission enters last lap; crucial test on Sept. 24.  Full Article 

Separatists' Demand

Separatists' Demand

Scotland’s referendum stirs Kashmiri demands for vote on future.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Fear and hope as Sierra Leone braces for three-day Ebola lockdown.  Full Article 

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba set to price IPO shares amid investor frenzy.  Full Article 

Life of Sophia Loren

Life of Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren, Italy's national icon, turns 80 with book of memoirs.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage