'Terminations must be easier' - Savita expert
A more liberal abortion regime in the Republic could allow termination of pregnancy on request up to 12 or 14 weeks into a pregnancy, the UK obstetrician who investigated the death of Savita Halappanavar has said.
Speaking in Dublin, Professor Emeritus Sabaratnam Arulkumaran said that in the UK abortion on request was allowed up to 24 weeks.
"The vast majority of abortions are done by 12 weeks or 14 weeks," he said.
He was speaking at a seminar organised by the All-Party Oireachtas Interest Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Regulations could set out the circumstances for later abortions for cases such as fatal foetal abnormality, he added.
He said: "The World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics favour liberalisation of abortion laws.
"Criminalisation of abortion only increases mortality, without decreasing incidence of induced abortions.
"Implementation of the Citizens' Assembly's recommendations, in combination with enhanced availability of affordable contraception, would go a long way to bringing Ireland into compliance with international best practice norms and guidelines for reproductive health services."
Dr Caitriona Henchion, of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), told the meeting that many women travelling to the UK were having surgical abortions instead of medical abortions because they could not afford to risk any complications they might suffer.
She also said in some instances women who had bought abortion pills over the internet had developed complications such as bleeding but they were only seeking medical attention after three days.
"Women's healthcare in unintended and crisis pregnancy falls far below standards," she added.