Wednesday 25 April 2018

Review of 'ambiguous abortion law' called for

Savita Halappanavar with her husband Praveen
Savita Halappanavar with her husband Praveen

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

A LEADING medical journal has called on the Irish Government to thoroughly review and assess its "ambiguous abortion law".

The comment was made in an editorial in the 'Lancet' in the wake of the controversy of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy at Galway University Hospital.

The editorial referred to Savita's death from sepsis "after having been denied a termination of pregnancy during a threatened miscarriage".

And it referred to the wordwide uproar that followed.

It said Ireland's restrictive abortion laws have caused public anger before, for example in 1992, when a 14-year-old rape victim was prevented from travelling to England for an abortion but was eventually given the right to abortion on the grounds of suicide risk.

"Maternal deaths are thankfully now rare in developed countries. But any such death is avoidable and makes it all the more important to critically examine laws and guidelines.

"The Irish Government should thoroughly review and reassess its ambiguous abortion law," the UK journal added.

Meanwhile, a spokewoman for Marie Stopes International confirmed that the Marie Stopes clinic which opened in Belfast in mid October has had "interest" in medical abortion services from women living in the Republic.

She told the Irish Independent that because it wanted women to be assured of a confidential, non-judgmental service with full respect for their privacy she could not go into more detail.

The centre, which opened in Belfast's Great Victoria St, offers medical terminations to protect the life of the woman.


It offers a range of women's health services and provides medical terminations up to nine weeks gestation.

In a further development, the Government has told the Council of Europe that any seriously ill woman who is pregnant in the Republic, who has had a request for termination refused, is entitled to a second medical opinion.

The woman would also have the right to apply to the High Court for orders directing the "necessary treatment."

The detail is set out in an action plan given to the Council of Europe on Friday. It refers to the option open to a woman in a similar situation to Ms C.

The woman was treated for cancer and when she became accidentally pregnant, she had to go abroad for an abortion when she was unable to find a doctor in Ireland willing to determine if her life would be at risk if she continued to full term.

Another action plan must be filed with Europe in February.

Irish Independent

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