Irish abortion report: decision due by end of year

Savita Halappanavar died after a miscarriage Savita Halappanavar died after a miscarriage

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The Republic of Ireland's government is to decide by the end of the year what it is going to do about the country's abortion laws.

On Tuesday, it published the report of an expert group on the issue.

The recent death of Indian dentist Savital Halappanavar in a Galway hospital focussed attention on the lack of clarity about when doctors in the Republic can terminate a pregnancy.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg criticised the situation.

In response, the Irish government set up an expert panel to look at the issue.

On Tuesday afternoon, the government published its report which favours legislation and regulation as the best of four options to follow.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly said the Fine Gael Labour coalition government would make its decision on what to do by the end of the year and that there would be a full Dáil debate.

The legislation option has been strongly criticised by the British-based Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child.

It has called for widespread resistance to the proposal.

International protests

Mrs Halappanaver, 31, died on 28 October died after suffering a miscarriage in University Hospital, Galway. Her widower, Praveen, claimed she was denied a termination.

The Irish Republic's health service is conducting an inquiry, which is now described as a clinical review.

The Health Information Quality Authority, an independent health safety body, will conduct a parallel inquiry.

However, Mr Halappanavar has asked for a full public inquiry into his wife's death.

He believes she would still be alive if she had been granted an abortion days earlier, when she was told she was losing her baby.

The death of the Indian-born dentist sparked international protests and reignited the debate on the Republic's abortion laws.

Currently, a medical termination is permitted when the life - as opposed to the health - of a mother is at risk.

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