Thursday 24 August 2017

Fiona De Londras: No justification for excluding suicidal women from new abortion legislation

IN recent months, a number of commentators have argued that abortion legislation ought to not cover cases where the risk to the pregnant woman's life emanates from suicidal ideation. However, under a legal analysis, this argument lacks justification.

Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution recognises the equal right to life of pregnant women and the unborn. This means that abortion is generally prohibited in Ireland but is constitutionally permissible where three conditions are met: (i) there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman, (ii) in all probability that risk can be averted only by termination of the pregnancy, and (iii) the foetus is not viable such that abortion (rather than early delivery) is the appropriate means of termination.

As should be readily apparent, abortion is thus permitted in Ireland only in extremely limited circumstances.

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