Ireland Moves To Legalize Abortion

Following public outcry over the death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied a potentially life-saving abortion, the Irish government has decided to repeal anti-abortion laws.

Shawn Pogatchnik / AP

Thirty-one-year-old Savita Halappanavar’s death in November sparked protests and demands for reform from thousands of Irish citizens. She died from septicemia during a miscarriage, a blood disease that could have potentially been prevented had Galway University Hospital not denied her an abortion due to strict Irish-Catholic law. On Tuesday, Ireland’s cabinet decided “to repeal legislation that makes abortion a criminal act and to introduce regulations setting out when doctors can perform an abortion when a woman’s life is regarded as being at risk, including by suicide,” according to The Telegraph.

“For too long,” member of parliament Michael Conaghan wrote in a statement, “we have failed to remove the obstacles, to protect women’s safety during pregnancy and childbirth, the most vulnerable point in their lives. And there have been many more tragedies, many of which never reached the pages of the national newspapers.”

Shawn Pogatchnik / AP

Ireland’s anti-abortion ministers and citizens aren’t happy with the proposed legislation. Irish senator Ronan Mullen went so far as to tell The Telegraph that the government was guilty of hypocrisy for supporting the bill and condemning the Sandy Hook massacre: “I find it entirely appropriate that we would join in solidarity with the people, with the children who died in Connecticut. Let’s be sincere about that. And let’s not slip into a double-think either, however, where we forget a whole category of children in our own country.”

Still others believe the proposed legislation doesn’t take a strong-enough stance as abortion will still only be legal in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. Labour Party junior health minister Kathleen Lynch told The Daily Mail “that there will be another incident and we will have to return and confront this issue again. What we are about to do is far too narrow.”

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