Denis Foynes – The Irish government has passed abortion rights for women whose life is under threat due to pregnancy.
Controversially, the abortion can be granted when the woman feels suicidal. There are fears in the predominantly Catholic country that this may be abused to grant more abortions in Ireland.
The debate split Irish public opinion. There were protests by pro-life groups, hate mail, death threats, and intimidation to politicians and campaigners, especially regarding the “suicide clause.” Nonetheless, opinion polls indicate the overwhelming majority of Irish people support the bill, but not abortion-on-demand.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 was drafted after the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in November. The Indian dentist died in an Irish hospital in October last year after being denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She was simply told that it wasn’t possible as “Ireland is a Catholic country.” The incident shocked the country and fueled demands for change. Hence the vote was passed last week by the Irish parliament by 127 to 31.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny stated that it was time the women of Ireland have the rights they deserve protected in law.
“We had 21 years of inaction, 21 years of inaction,” Kenny said. “What’s going on here is medical clarity and legal certainty for the women of our country who have had a constitutional right conferred upon them.”
New figures recently revealed that every day, 11 Irish women travel to the United Kingdom to have on demand abortions.