Sadly it took the death of a healthy woman to ignite the outrage over Ireland’s lack of abortion legislation, but a decision has finally been made.
In 1992 the Irish Supreme Court ruled that having an abortion was a woman’s right when her life was at risk, this risk included suicide. However, because Ireland is a Catholic country, and the ruling was never made into an actual piece of legislation it was never acted upon. Until now that is. CNN reports that Ireland’s Minister of Health, James Reilly announced Tuesday in a statement that,
Ireland’s government is to introduce a new law and regulations to clarify that abortions are permissible when the life — but not health — of the mother is at risk. [Reilly is] aware of the strength of feeling around the issue of abortion, but that the government had a duty to ensure the safety of pregnant women in Ireland. For that purpose, we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.
This monumental decision, made Tuesday morning in a Cabinet meeting, came about after the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who moved from India to Ireland with her husband several years ago, turned an international spotlight on the controversy in Ireland. Halappanavar died from blood poisoning after her Doctors refused to abort the fetus she was miscarrying.
The government is acting based on a report by the Guttmacher Institute which is an internationally recognized expert group on abortion. This report was commissioned after a judgment made by the European Court of Human Rights. The Guttmacher report states,
Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates … Where abortion is legal on broad grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is illegal in most circumstances, it is generally unsafe.
Although it is likely to be several months before the proposed legislation is finalized, it is a step in the right direction and signifies progress for not only women but men as well. The more an individual is allowed to control their own fertility and reproductive choices the better the life outcome is for all involved.
More on Savita Halappanavar: