Europe

Abortion: Irish government legislation announcement due

  • 18 December 2012
  • From the section Europe
Irish PM Enda Kenny
Image caption Enda Kenny's coalition government is due to make an announcement on Irish abortion laws later

The Irish government is expected to announce later on Tuesday what action it intends to take to deal with the country's abortion laws.

It follows the report of an expert group set up to advise on how to bring legal clarity to the issue.

The move comes seven weeks after the death of Savita Halappanavar.

Abortion is currently illegal in the Republic, except where there is a risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.

However, no government has enacted laws to give certainty to doctors as to when terminations can be carried out and under what circumstances.

On Tuesday, the Irish government is expected to announce a combination of legislation and regulation in cases where the life of a woman is at risk, including by suicide.

The new package of measures will comply with the government's obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The expert group report followed a 20-year-old judgement from Ireland's Supreme Court, in an action known as the X Case, that termination in life-threatening circumstances, including a risk of suicide, can be lawful.

The issue of abortion is both politically and socially divisive in the Republic.

In recent weeks there have been three debates in the Irish parliament on the issue, following the publication of the expert group's report and the death of Mrs Halappanavar.

The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died at University Hospital Galway following a miscarriage.

Her family claims she had requested an abortion but her requests were repeatedly refused.

The high-profile case is now being investigated by the investigated by the Irish health authorities.

The Republic of Ireland has voted on abortion issues in several referendums.

In 1983, the mother and unborn child's equal right to life were supported and since 1992 women have had the right to travel outside the state for a termination and the right to information on abortion.

In 2002, a proposal to remove suicide as grounds for abortion as set out in the X case was rejected by the electorate.

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