Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Irish president passes abortion law

President Michael D Higgins signed off on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 without referring it to the Supreme Court

President Michael D Higgins has passed new laws allowing abortion in Ireland under certain circumstances.

The head of state signed off on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 without referring it to the Supreme Court, after meeting his advisers, the Council of State, on Monday.

The new laws will provide for a woman's right to an abortion if her life is at risk, including from suicide.

The legislation was drawn up amid a public outcry over the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who died in an Irish hospital in October last year. She had been denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy. Her widower Praveen claimed the couple had been told a termination was not allowed because "Ireland is a Catholic country".

In 1992, Dublin's Supreme Court delivered a judgment, known as the X case, ruling that abortion should be allowed if there was a threat to the mother's life, including suicide. The case involved a 14-year-old rape victim who became pregnant and was refused permission by the Irish authorities to travel to the UK for an abortion.

Ireland was also under pressure after a European Court of Human Rights ruling that a woman in remission with cancer was discriminated against because she was forced to travel overseas for a termination.

The Pro Life Campaign said the passage of the bill into law was a very sad day for the country and warned it will be remembered at the next general election.

Spokeswoman Caroline Simons maintained that, despite what is being said by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the new law is life-ending, not life-saving.

"The Government brought forward this law in the full knowledge that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings and ignored all the peer-reviewed evidence showing that abortion has adverse mental health consequences for women," she said.

"This is a very sad day for our country. For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being."

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