Belfast Telegraph

No change to abortion rules over dead mother baby case

By Shane Phelan

The Irish Government has ruled out any immediate change to Ireland's abortion regime amid the fallout from the case of a clinically dead pregnant woman who is being kept on a life support machine to keep her unborn baby alive.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and two other Irish cabinet ministers signalled there would be no legislative changes or referendum in the lifetime of the current government despite the controversy over the eighth amendment to the Irish Constitution.

Their comments came as it emerged the High Court in Dublin is due to consider the case and the issues it has raised next week.

The woman's parents have requested that the machine be switched off, but doctors have been unwilling to do this because of the constitutional amendment, which gives the rights of mothers and the unborn equal status.

The woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, suffered a catastrophic internal injury over a fortnight ago and has no chance of survival, but the foetus she is carrying is still alive.

Mr Kenny warned there would be no "knee-jerk reaction" to the case.

He said the Government would not react in haste and would have to give careful consideration to the "complexities" involved.

The Labour Party deputy leader, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, said abortion legislation would not be revisited in the lifetime of the current government and the matter needed to be studied and thought out more.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar had said the case had put the abortion issue in a "slightly different position" now, but ruled out any referendum in the immediate future.

The comments came as it emerged the High Court is due to consider the woman's case next Tuesday. The President of the Irish High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has made himself available for a hearing, which would take place during the legal vacation.

Reporting restrictions prohibit the identification of the woman or the hospital where she is currently on life support.

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