Saturday 24 March 2018

Abortion law will stand up to any challenge, says Gilmore

Colm Kelpie Beijing

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has said the Government was determined not to neglect the abortion issue.

Mr Gilmore was speaking in China, where he is on a week-long trade and diplomatic trip, after President Michael D Higgins signed the abortion legislation into law.

He delayed his departure for Beijing to attend the Council of State meeting which considered the abortion legislation, the Protection of Life In Maternity Bill, 2013 – now the Protection of Life in Maternity Act, 2013.

"We were determined that this would not be the seventh government in a row to neglect to deal with this important issue," Mr Gilmore told the Irish Independent.

"We have now legislated for it. It was difficult, it was sensitive legislation but it is well thought-out legislation and I'm glad that it is now been signed into law by the President."

Mr Gilmore said he believed the law would stand up to any constitutional challenge, and also issued the official government reaction to the enactment of the legislation.

In a statement, he said the President's decision to sign the legislation was a "key milestone in Irish law".

"The enactment of this legislation, 21 years after the Supreme Court ruling on the X Case, is a historic moment.

"The core purpose of this legislation is about saving women's lives. It has been 21 years since the X Case tested (the 1983 amendment to protect the equal right to life of the unborn child and the mother).

"Ten years after the X Case, it was left to another woman to ask the courts – not her doctors – to determine the treatment she was entitled to in the case of a risk to her life. This was Miss C, a cancer patient in remission, who successfully appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. That is the judgment, to which this Government pledged to respond."

Mr Gilmore also said the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar highlighted the "legal uncertainty" faced by doctors in dealing with medical emergencies where the life of a woman was at risk.

Irish Independent

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