THE master of the country's largest maternity hospital has added her voice to calls for greater legislative clarity on when doctors can intervene to protect a pregnant woman's life.
Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles St in Dublin, said there needed to be more guidance for doctors on when to intervene when the probability of a risk to the mother's life leaves them in a grey area.
Dr Mahony was commenting in the wake of the death of Sativa Halappanavar in Galway hospital after suffering a miscarriage and suspected septicaemia.
She had been miscarrying for a number of days and had asked for a termination. However, her husband Praveen said she was told this was not possible as long as the foetus had a heartbeat.
Dr Mahony said women and doctors need to be protected by the law. "I think it is very disappointing that, 20 years after the X Case, we don't have legislation and I think that it really does need to happen.
"I think everybody needs to be protected, the women of Ireland need to be protected, they need to know that they are going to get the appropriate health care that they need.
"I think the doctors giving that health care need to know that they are also protected in their ability to do their job."
Dr Sam Coulter Smith, master of the Rotunda maternity hospital, said he sees no evidence of confusion in medical ranks in Ireland over whether or not a woman can have an abortion if her life is at risk.
But he agreed it would be preferable to have legislation to bring clarity to the situation.