Monday 11 December 2017

Woman at suicide risk among 25 who had legal abortions

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy Picture: Fergal Phillips
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy Picture: Fergal Phillips
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A woman at risk of suicide was among the 25 who had legal abortions in the Republic last year.

Eight pregnancies were terminated arising from risk of physical illness, the annual report from the Department of Health revealed.

Another 16 abortions were performed in cases of emergency due to physical illness.

The abortions can be performed under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including risk of suicide.

The 2016 figure is in line with annual national estimates presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee hearings on the General Scheme of the Act in January 2013.

It is one lower than the 26 terminations notified in 2015.

The HSE has also submitted a report saying two cases went on to review and were granted after an initial request was turned down.

It comes as the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which is due to begin public hearings in September, is expected to come under pressure to urge that any legislation proposing to widen the grounds for abortion be published before next year's referendum on the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Committee member Deputy Jan O'Sullivan said this would be examined as part of the deliberations.

It follows the delivery of the report of the Citizens' Assembly, chaired by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, on the Eighth Amendment to the Oireachtas yesterday. The report confirmed that almost two-thirds of the members voted for termination of pregnancy without restriction.

Just under half of those recommended that abortion on demand should be allowed only up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

A further 44pc recommended it be allowed up to 22 weeks and 8pc said that abortion be available without restrictions as to gestational age.

The report makes it clear that legislation is a matter for politicians.

It also said primary and post-primary students should receive improved education in sexual health and relationships, including on the issue of consent.

It urges legislators to improve counselling, obstetric and gynaecological services to expectant mothers and to women who have abortions.

Health Minister Simon Harris said that it was important that the Citizens' Assembly was given full consideration.

"This is an issue that, as a nation, we now need to deal with definitively," he said, calling for a respectful debate.

Irish Independent

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