Irish deputies back abortion in limited cases

July 12, 2013

Irish lawmakers voted early Friday to back controversial new legislation that will allow abortion in limited cases, after the death last year of an Indian woman due to complications from her pregnancy.

One junior minister quit her post after voting against the bill, the focus of bitter debate in mainly Catholic Ireland. She faces exclusion from the ruling Fine Gael party.

Weary lawmakers voted through the bill, by 127 to 31 against, after marathon discussions on 165 amendments, which ran until 05:00am Thursday and 00:30am Friday (23:30 GMT).

The bill will now go to a vote in the upper house, where the government has a majority.

Abortion laws in Ireland became the focus of global attention and intense debate following the death of 31-year-old Indian woman Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital last October.

Halappanavar had sought a termination when told she was miscarrying, but the request was refused as her life was not at risk at the time. She died of days after miscarrying.

The intense media attention and public outrage following Halappanavar's death encouraged Dublin to introduce legal clarity, rather than guidelines to deal with the European and Supreme Court rulings.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill allows for abortion in circumstances where doctors certify there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, as opposed to a risk to her health.

The new bill also permits a termination when one and two psychiatrists unanimously agree that an expectant mother is a .

The "suicide clause," in particular, has divided society, with some lawmakers taking the view it will lead to a more liberal abortion regime in Ireland.

The bill passed easily in Friday's vote as the enjoys a large majority and the support of some members of the opposition.

But Lucinda Creighton, junior minister with responsibility for European Affairs and member of Prime Minister Enda Kenny's Fine Gael party, voted against the government because of her misgivings about the suicide clause.

She immediately resigned her ministerial position, rather than waiting for the next cabinet meeting to sack her and has also been expelled from the parliamentary party.

"I am deeply disappointed to have to vote against the government's abortion bill today," she said.

"I never wished or expected to be expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

"I feel deeply and strongly that aspects of this bill are based on flawed logic and absolutely zero medical evidence."

Kenny did not allow a free vote on the matter, and already four other government lawmakers have been expelled from the parliamentary party after voting against the bill at an earlier stage.

The bill has caused intense debate with around 35,000 opponents attending a march in Dublin last Saturday.

Kenny revealed recently he had received abusive letters written in blood and opponents of the bill have branded him a murderer.

On the other side of the debate, some have argued that the bill is too limited as it does not allow termination in cases of foetal abnormalities, or in cases of incest or rape.

New figures from the health ministry in Britain released on Thursday show 3,982 women, including 124 under the age of 18, travelled from the Republic of Ireland to England or Wales for a termination in 2012.

Between 1980 and 2012, more than 150,000 women travelled from Ireland to England and Wales for a termination, according to the figures.

If passed in the upper house, the bill will go to the president, Michael d. Higgins, who can sign it into law or refer it to the Supreme Court if he feels it is unconstitutional.

The follows a 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling that found Ireland had failed to implement properly the constitutional right to abortion where a woman's life is at risk.

Explore further: Irish lawmakers debate abortion law for second day

Related Stories

Irish lawmakers debate abortion law for second day

July 11, 2013
Irish lawmakers will resume discussion on controversial new abortion legislation later Thursday after failing to go to a final vote despite debating into the early hours.

Irish lawmakers agonize over abortion vote

July 10, 2013
After decades of delay and months of argument, Ireland's lawmakers agonized Wednesday over government plans to pass an abortion bill for the first time in this predominantly Catholic country.

Irish lawmakers back bill on life-saving abortions

July 2, 2013
(AP)—Ireland appeared on course to legalize abortion in limited circumstances as lawmakers voted Tuesday to support a bill that would permit a pregnancy to be terminated when deemed necessary to save a woman's life.

Ireland publishes bill on life-saving abortions (Update)

May 1, 2013
Ireland unveiled a long-awaited bill Wednesday that lays down new rules governing when life-saving abortions can be performed, a point of potentially lethal confusion for women in a country that outlaws terminations.

Ireland's Cabinet weighs options on abortion laws

November 27, 2012
(AP)—Ireland published an experts' report Tuesday recommending that the government define when a woman in a life-threatening pregnancy can receive an abortion, a major national issue since the death last month of an Indian ...

Texas House provisionally approves abortion law

July 10, 2013
(AP)—The Texas House has given provisional approval to tough new abortion restrictions, making good on a third attempt to pass the measure this year.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

praos
1 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2013
What if the father is a suicide risk? Then in the name of gender equality women should be forced to abort. What if I am a suicide risk because of my tax returns? Or my utility bill?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.