Reforms are expected to allow abortion if there is a medical risk to the woman's life
The Irish government is expected to introduce new legislation which will allow for abortions to take place if there is a medical risk to the woman’s life.
This comes after pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that abortions should be allowed in the country in cases where a woman’s life was at risk or when she is thought to be in danger of suicide.
It is currently unclear as to whether or not the law will allow for terminations in cases of rape or sexual abuse.
Ireland’s abortion ban came under international scrutiny following the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in Galway University Hospital during a miscarriage after she and her husband had repeatedly asked for a termination of her 19-week-old pregnancy.
Around 2,000 people protested in order to call for reform of abortion laws.
An expert group is looking at the laws and has recommended that legislation plus regulation would fulfil the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the judgment of the European court in the case of three women who claimed their human rights, including the right to life, had been put in danger by the abortion ban.
However, the issue is still sensitive, with anti-abortion groups promising to picket constituency offices if politicians introduce abortion in Ireland.
The Irish health minister, James Reilly, admitted he was very conscious of the sensitivities around the issue. ‘I know that most people have personal views on this matter. However, the government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened,’ he said.
‘We must fulfil our duty of care towards them. For that purpose we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life.
‘We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child,’ he added.