Legislation for abortion should be introduced without further delay.

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Health, National

Legislation without restrictions should be introduced immediately to make abortion available in practise. The proposal that six doctors would be required to approve abortion is ridiculous and unacceptable; this fly’s in the face of the X Case ruling of the Supreme Court and the ABC ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.

Faced with such obstacles, a distressed woman or girl would probably not proceed past the first interview – making abortion unavailable in practise to women or girls who are suicidal due to unwanted pregnancy and increasing the risk to their lives. The opinion of two medical practitioners is more than appropriate to approve an abortion.

Legislation permitting abortion, to protect women’s lives, is all the more urgent in the light of the conclusion of the inquest into the untimely death of Savita Halappanavar. The Coroners recommendations for Medical Council guidelines are not enough. Savita’s request for an abortion was not agreed to because of the legal situation in Ireland. Eminent obstetrician, Dr Peter Boylan said that Savita would probably be alive today had she been given an abortion when she had asked for one.

If the Legislation for X had been in place it could have saved Savita’s life. The X Case ruling states that the risk to a woman’s life does not have to be ‘immediate or inevitable’ for abortion to be legal; incoming legislation must reflect that. Public opinion is now in favour of legislation, which includes the risk of suicide as grounds for abortion.  This should be introduced, without the over the top restrictions, that would make abortion unavailable in practise.

Savita’s inquest shows that the distinction between a risk to a woman’s health and a risk to her life must end. Laws that deny a woman the treatment she needs – abortion when needed to remove a risk to her life ­ – until she is so ill that she might die, undermines the role of doctors and devalues women’s lives. Women in Ireland need the right to abortion when necessary to protect their health. This ultimately means the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Over the top guidelines are a red herring and serve only to continue the tradition of delay tactics on this issue.  The suggestions being made are unworkable and are an attempt to lay the ground for a compromise which would allow the introduction of other restrictions.  The Labour Party have been entirely disingenuous on this issue they are merely staging a fight with the Minister for health over guidelines to create the appearance that they are making a stand. This is entirely contrived and only serves to create further delays, which is absolutely outrageous.