Uphill Battle for Ireland’s New Abortion Law

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The death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway, Ireland, last October created a national uproar in the country, and a call for greater clarity around a longstanding Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion when a woman's life is at risk. More than 20 years have passed since that decision, and the government has not passed legislation backing it. But, finally heeding calls from the European Court of Human Rights, the Irish government has announced that legislation is coming soon, according to IrishExaminer.com:

The Department of Health announced its intention to introduce a combination of legislation and regulations for doctors to abide by in cases where there may be uncertainty.

Its decision came on the back of an expert group report on a separate court ruling-a European Court of Human Rights ruling on how to respond to the so-called ABC case.

In that judgment, the European court found the state violated the rights of a woman in remission from cancer who was forced to travel abroad to terminate her pregnancy.

This will be an uphill battle. The Irish Medical Organization, the professional organization for doctors in Ireland, recently rejected several motions during its annual conference that would have supported new abortion regulations-even striking down a motion in support of abortion in cases when a woman's life is in danger, which is already legal in the country.

This legislation is a step towards making legal abortion accessible in Ireland. But much more must be done to develop a culture in Ireland in which doctors make a conscientious commitment to the health of women and reaffirm that their primary duty is the well-being of their patients.

Read the Center's brief in ABC v. Ireland