Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Savita's law

Last month, Savita Halappanavar died a slow and painful death in an Irish hospital after doctors refused to perform an abortion. Now, the Irish government is introducing legislation confirming that abortion is legal to save the life of the mother:

In a move unthinkable even a few years ago, the Irish government is to introduce legislation permitting abortions in limited circumstances.

The decision follows pressure from the European court of human rights, which ruled that abortions should be allowed in the republic in cases where a woman's life was at risk.

The taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who represents one of the most traditional rural Catholic constituencies in Ireland, said the Fine Gael-Labour coalition would proceed with a mixture of "legislation with regulation".

The measures would be based on proposals from the so-called Expert Group. The reforms are expected to allow terminations where there is a medical risk to a woman's life or when she is thought to be in danger of killing herself. It is unclear whether the law will allow for terminations in cases of rape or sexual abuse.

Obviously, this isn't far enough: civilised countries have abortion on demand (sadly, New Zealand isn't one of them). But it is definitely progress, and should hopefully prevent a case like Savita Halappanavar's from happening ever again.