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Ireland Repeals Parts of Long-Standing Abortion Ban, Defying Catholic Church

(UPDATED) Irish president signs first-ever exception to the country's abortion ban.

Update (July 30): For the first time ever, abortions now are legal in some cases in Ireland. The Assocated Press reports that Irish president Michael Higgins has signed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill approved by Parliament earlier this month.

"The law permits abortions to alleviate life-threatening conditions, including a woman's own threat to commit suicide if refused a termination," AP states.


Update (July 15, 2013): Members of the Irish Parliament have voted 127-31 to amend Ireland's ban on abortions, allowing doctors to perform the procedure only in the case of a threat to the mother's life. In spite of the significant margin by which it passed, the bill still faces an uphill battle: It must be approved by the Senate, signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins, and potentially reviewed by the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality.

Irish news station RTE News reports that "the landmark legislation enshrines a woman's right to a termination if her life is at risk, including from suicide." Yet, CNN adds, "in its final provisions, the bill underlines existing Irish laws to protect the fetus."

The debate over Irish anti-abortion law began last year after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died last November after being denied an abortion during a miscarriage.


Ireland has announced plans to reform the country's restrictive abortion policies, allowing women access to abortions in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

The changes arise two years after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland must clarify its abortion laws. However, the reforms came just two months after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died during a miscarriage after being denied an abortion at a hospital in Galway. Her death sparked protests in both the Irish capital city of Dublin and New Delhi, India, where Halappanavar was from.

Now, according to the Daily Telegraph, "the Irish government has 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."

But the change won't come easily. Ireland remains a staunchly Catholic country, and the Irish Roman Catholic Church condemns the policy change as an attempt to "licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb."

CT previously reported Halappanavar's death, the ECHR's ruling against Ireland in 2010, as well as a recent string of pro-life rulings from the ECHR.

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