14.01.13, Joanna Tacon
A committee of the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, the Oireachtas, has held a series of hearings on the subject of abortion – specifically, investigating how the X case should be legislated.
The Joint Committee on Health and Children’s session on abortion heard submissions from a variety of interested parties, including religious groups and medical experts.
Abortion in Eire is currently illegal in all but a few cases, involving danger to the life of the mother, and the lack of legislation on the matter means there is uncertainty among doctors about when a termination is legally justified.
The hearings were always going to attract strong opinions, given the sensitivity of the issue of abortion in the Republic of Ireland, but in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar, there has been heightened media interest. The hearings were brought forward in response to the furore following Savita’s case, amid reports that her death following a miscarriage could have been avoided had doctors heeded her wish for a termination.
A recent poll, reported in the Irish Times, found that 64% of respondents are in favour of changing current abortion law.
Abortion Rights comments: “This is a long overdue reaction to the X case, and we are glad to see that legislation which clarifies the legal position for doctors could well be on the horizon.
“Following Savita’s tragic death, her family has expressed a wish that the law in the Republic of Ireland be amended to protect women in a similar situation. We hope that their wish is fulfilled.
“In the long term, Ireland will have to face up to the issue of abortion, with thousands of Irish women traveling abroad for a termination every year. But in the meantime, any movement towards liberalising Irish laws – some of the most restrictive in Europe – is welcome news.”