Reform of the Irish abortion lawsThank you for your email. [it is a reply, below --- what is replied]
You may be aware that the Labour Party, alone among the political parties has a long-standing commitment to legislate for the X case.
As part of the Programme for Government negotiated in March 2011, we agreed with our partners in government, Fine Gael, to set up an expert group to look into all the complex medical and legal issues around this issue and provide us with recommendations on how best to proceed. That Expert Group was set up in November 2011.
The report of the Expert Group was published on 27 November 2012 and is available to read on the Department of Health's website.
The Expert Group outlines four options for the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the A, B and C v Ireland case – namely guidelines, secondary legislation (Ministerial regulations), primary legislation (an Act of Parliament), and primary legislation coupled with regulations.
The Government discussed the Report on 27th November, and took a series of decisions on the implementation of the judgment:
- There will be a full debate on the findings of the Expert Group in the Dail starting this week.
- Secondly following this discussion, the Government will make a decision by the end of this month.
- The Joint Committee on health and children will hold public hearings on the implementation of the option chosen for three days before the resumption of the Dail in the middle of January 2013.
The decision taken will be implemented early in the New Year.
It is my personal view that legislation is required to provide legal clarity to women and their doctors, and I believe that the Expert Group report provides us with the roadmap for action in that regard.
Eamon Gilmore TD
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade
cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
We are writing to you to express our concern about the recent death of Savita Halappanavar, who was repeatedly denied an abortion in Galway. This tragic case demonstrates once again that the prohibition of abortion in Ireland is not just undermining the autonomy of the women across the country, it is leading to unacceptable suffering and even death.
Savita Halappanavar made repeated requests for an abortion after presenting at University Hospital Galway on 21 October while miscarrying during the 17th week of her pregnancy. Her requests were refused, and she died one week later after several days in agonising pain and distress.
The situation of Savita Halappanavar provides the clearest possible evidence that laws that permit abortion only to save the life of a woman, such as the Irish law, are clinically unworkable and ethically unacceptable. There are numerous clinical situations in which a serious risk posed to a pregnant woman's health may become a risk to her life, and delaying emergency action only increases that risk. There is only one way to know if a woman's life is at risk: wait until she has died. Medical practitioners must be empowered by law to intervene on the grounds of risk to life and health, rather than wait for a situation to deteriorate.
You will be aware that the European Court of Human Rights, as well as a number of United Nations human rights bodies, have called upon the Irish government to bring its abortion law in line with international human rights standards. Had these calls been heeded before now, the death of Savita Halappanavar would have been prevented.
With the death of Savita Halappanavar, Ireland joins the ranks of countries worldwide where abortion is denied to women and leads to their deaths.
We call on your government to take urgent and decisive steps to reform the legislation that led to the death of Savita Halappanavar. Until the Irish legal system is reformed the lives, health and autonomy of women across Ireland are in jeopardy.
extra: Poll: Most Irish want new abortion legislation