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UK peer warns on suicide clause

LORD David Steel, the architect of Britain's liberal abortion laws, has said the Irish Government would be making a mistake if it goes ahead with plans to legislate for termination on the grounds of a threat of suicide.

The Scottish peer (pictured), whose 1967 act permitted abortion up to the 28th week of pregnancy, said an Irish law which decides who can avail of a termination by ticking boxes would be "very difficult to implement".

"I think it would be a mistake to try and legislate for abortion in categories such as suicide or rape," he said. "We began with a bill with five categories, and sensibly, in consultation with the medical profession, they were reduced to two: the mental and physical health of the mother taking into account her whole family circumstances, and if there was a substantial risk of severe handicap.

"It would seem the mistake being made in Ireland is to try to define the circumstances in which each abortion may be carried out and that is a hopeless road to travel down. I never envisaged there would so many abortions," he said. "All we knew was that hospitals up and down the land had patients admitted for septic, self-induced abortions and we had up to 50 women a year dying from them."

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