Ireland to clarify abortion rules after Indian woman's death

Savita death

The Irish health authority (HSE) has launched an inquiry which the health minister said must stand up to the scrutiny of the world. Irish media said Praveen would be interviewed.

The Indian couple were resident and working in Ireland, he as an engineer and she as a dentist.


Despite a dramatic waning of the influence of the Catholic Church, which dominated politics in Ireland until the 1980s, successive governments have been loath to legislate on an issue they fear could alienate conservative voters.

Fine Gael, the senior partner in Ireland's ruling coalition, told supporters before a recent election that it would not introduce new laws allowing abortion during its five-year term, despite pressure from its junior partner Labour to act.

The government said it had received long-delayed recommendations from an expert panel on introducing new rules on abortion, and would report before the end of the month.

Four out of five Irish voters support a change in the law to permit abortion in cases where a mother's life is at risk, according to a recent opinion poll.

But a vocal anti-abortion minority has dominated the debate on abortion in Ireland in the past, with campaigners arguing that the adoption of legislation or guidelines for medical terminations would bring in abortion through the back door.

In 1992, when challenged in the X-case involving a 14-year-old rape victim, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was permitted when the woman's life was at risk, including from suicide. A European Court of Human Rights in 2010 ruled that Ireland must clarify what this means in practice.

This is exactly what the (European) court was complaining about ... The court has not said Ireland must or must not have abortion, they said they have to clarify circumstances, said Ronan McCrea, a barrister and lecturer in law at University College London.

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