Sinn Féin is to bring forward a motion before the 26 County parliament that seeks to prevent pregnant women falling into a medical and legislative limbo, such as that which led to the death of Galway dentist Savita Halappanavar last month.
Party leader Gerry Adams spoke out today as a blame game continued over the Indian woman’s death at Galway city’s main hospital. It was claimed on Monday night that Savita’s life could have been saved if she had received a termination of her miscarrying pregnancy, but that this was refused because of Ireland’s position on abortion.
Legislation to provide a framework for terminations in the case when the life of the mother is in danger has been sought since 1992, when a Supreme Court ruling made clear that the procedures are permitted under 26 County law. Pro-choice campaigners have sought such legislation in the two decades since then.
“The death of Savita Halappanavar has shocked and saddened the Irish people,” Mr Adams said. “While we have to wait the outcome of ongoing inquiries into this tragedy, Savita’s case has underlined in the most tragic way possible, the need for long overdue legislation on the termination of pregnancy where a woman’s life is in danger.
“There are strong and sincerely held views across Irish society and in all political parties, including Sinn Fein, on the issue of abortion.
“But this is not about the broader issue of abortion. It is about specific cases where a woman’s life is at risk and where medical practitioners are tasked with making medical judgments without legal protection.”
There have been large protests in both Galway and Dublin following the death of Mrs Halappanavar, and it has drawn international condemnation. Protestors called for legislation to give effect to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case, to protect pregnant women where their lives are in real danger and to give legal certainty to medical professionals.
“As TDs we are elected to serve all citizens,” said Mr Adams. “We must set aside personal positions and face up to our responsibilities as legislators. The government has stated its intention to bring forward legislation but successive governments have failed to deal with this issue for 20 years.
“It is time now, finally, for legislation to protect the rights of women as decided by the Supreme Court in 1992. This should be done in a reasoned, tolerant and considered manner and with maximum cross party consensus.”