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Ireland to clarify abortion rules following woman’s death

Ireland’s new legislation will identify the limited circumstances under which abortion is legal in the Catholic country.

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Demonstrators hold placards and candles in memory of Savita Halappanavar, a Galway woman who died after she was refused an abortion, during a march in Dublin on Nov. 17, 2012. (PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ireland’s government announced today that it would draft new legislation and introduce regulations that clearly identify the limited circumstances under which abortion is legal in the Catholic country, Reuters reported.

The government was prompted to clarify the law by the death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar in November, Reuters reported. Denied an abortion of her dying fetus, the Galway resident later lost her life due to blood poisoning.

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In Ireland, doctors are only permitted to perform abortions when the life of a mother is in danger, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, physicians often decline to abort fetuses when women are at risk of complications since the guidelines of what is legal are unclear.

Physicians found guilty of performing illegal abortions face life imprisonment, the Financial Times reported.

According to the LA Times:

The European Court of Human Rights ruled two years ago that Ireland had failed to protect the lives of women and needed to clear up its abortion rules to comply with European Union law.

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"The legislation should provide the clarity and certainty in relation to the process of deciding when a termination of pregnancy is permissible, that is where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as opposed to the health, of the woman,” Ireland’s government said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The four Catholic bishops of Ireland criticized the government’s announcement in a joint statement today, the BBC reported. "If what is being proposed were to become law, the careful balance between the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child in current law and medical practice in Ireland would be fundamentally changed,” they said. "It would pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children. This can never be morally justified in any circumstances."

More from GlobalPost: Ireland’s first abortion clinic opens, draws protesters

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/ireland/121218/ireland-clarify-abortion-rules-following-womans-death