Irish Republican News · May 3, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘X case’ legislation finally drafted


There has been a broad political welcome for a new bill which will finally legislate for the 1983 ‘X case’ referendum, providing for a possibility of abortion in the limited case of a threat to the life of the mother.

An outline of the proposed legislation - released late on Tuesday night - ‘provides certainty’ for doctors and medical teams who have to make decisions about saving a mother and/or an unborn child, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The move is a belated attempt to provide the long-awaited legislation following the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died of an infection in a Galway hospital last October amid uncertainty over the status of a potentially life-saving termination.

Despite continuing controversy over provisions for abortion in the case of a pregnant woman at risk of suicide, the bill has had few vocal opponents, even among the two main conservative parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

At a government press briefing on Wednesday morning, Kenny sought to reassure those who believe the law will allow for abortion on demand, something which has always been strongly opposed by Irish voters.

“The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed,” he said. “Our country will continue to be one of the safest places in the world for childbirth.”

However, a measure in the new proposed law stating that a woman needing an abortion because she is suicidal will have to be assessed by a panel of three doctors and psychiatrists has raised concerns. Despite the possibility of an appeal -- to another panel of three doctors -- the measure raised strong fears that a suicidal and pregnant woman who was ‘disbelieved’ by the panel could be even more motivated to take her own life as a result.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald said there should be no delay about bringing forward the required legislation.

“I have a worry, which I know is shared by others, that what is happening at Cabinet is a form of posturing, not least from the Taoiseach’s political party,” she said.

The bill, which will have to be passed in both houses of the 26-County parliament, will not include cases concerning rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities.

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