Irish Government Defeats ‘Woman’s Life At Risk’ Abortion Bill


The Irish Government has led a 111-20 defeat on a vital abortion access bill that would legislate a woman’s right to seek a termination if her life is in danger from the pregnancy.

The bill, a private member bill put forward by Clare Daly of the Socialist Party, aimed to create a legal framework that would have allowed access to abortion for women whose lives were at risk if they were to continue with their pregnancies.

Reports The Journal on the government’s reasons for opposing the bill:

The defeat of the Bill had been signalled last night when health minister James Reilly confirmed that the government “cannot accept” the legislation as it currently stood, because it was “lacking in certain legal respects”.

Reilly said Section 6 of the bill – which outlined circumstances under which a GP could be presumed to have obtained consent to treat a pregnant woman when there were no means available to determine her consent – may have been in conflict with the Constitution.

This comes after the European Court of Human Rights issued an statement in 2010 that condemned Ireland for failing to legislate for the right to abortion in limited circumstances, in line with a Supreme Court ruling known as the “X Case” of 1992 which said a woman must have a right to an abortion if there was substantial risk to her life should she continue the pregnancy. While such procedures are technically allowed, successive governments have failed to enact legislation to give full effect to that ruling, meaning there is no guide for women and health care providers — with pro-choice groups pointing out that this has had a chilling effect on accessing these vital services.

However, the Irish Government was keen to deflect criticism, saying it was only proper to wait for a report it has commissioned on adopting the legal framework that is due out in the coming months and that once that was in lawmakers would act swiftly to make this change.

Reports the Irish Times:

Minister of State for Health Roisín Shortall thanked Ms Daly and her colleagues for moving the Bill. She reiterated the Government’s commitment to the “expeditious implementation” of the European Court of Human Rights judgement. This found the State had violated the rights of a woman who had cancer and who was forced to travel abroad to get an abortion.

Ms Shortall said she agreed with people who were critical of the fact that the issue had not been addressed. “Many years have been lost in respect of the commitment to legislate for the X case,’” she added.

She said it was unfair to criticise the current Government, given that an expert group had been set up and legislation would be introduced in accordance with its recommendations.

“As soon as the expert group reports at the end of June, the Government is absolutely committed to taking action in this area,” Ms Shortall added.

Critics however, have condemned the failure to move the bill saying that this is just another stall tactic. That it even required a private member bill to move this issue has been condemned by many as a sign of how intransigent lawmakers have been.

Indeed, several women who like many in Ireland had to travel to Britain in order to get the terminations they needed because they couldn’t find a care provider where they lived, met with lawmakers ahead of this vote to try and convince them to make the change as quickly as possible.

It seems that, for the time-being at least, Irish women in need of this service remain almost as vulnerable as they were in 1992.


Related Reading:

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Dispatches From The War On Women: More Work, Less Pay

Ohio GOP Moves To Strip Planned Parenthood Of Funds

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to internets_dairy.


Therese Davey
Therese Davey4 years ago

NOTHING in Irish law prevented the hospital from ending Savita’s pregnancy in order to save her life. Inducing labour to save the life of the mother happens regularly in Irish hospitals and is not the same as abortion. Salvita was sadly miscarrying on arrival to the hospital a terrible experience to begin with and, sadly she died within days of delivering her baby from septicaemia and E Coli ESBL. We may never know for certain whether ending the pregnancy earlier would have controlled the infection and saved her life, but, if medical staff needed to do that they COULD have done it and were going to do it but she gave birth. Ireland is not an ignorant, murderous, backward Catholic country who denies abortion or allows mothers to die. This sad case is about a miscarriage and not about abortion legislation. Ireland with its very high birth rate, has one of the lowest maternal death rates in the world, lower than the British rate where abortion is available on demand. Mothers dies because of botched abortions in legally approved clinics also, last year a doctor in a UK Marie Stopes clinic, was struck off the medical register because he nearly killed a woman while performing an abortion on her, resulting in her being ill in hospital for two months. Our sympathies and prayers must go to Savita's family at this sad time. The Irish people vote to change our constitution not the Pope or the Church. The nurse was having a conversation with Savita comparing the their two countirs

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Deni Gereighty
Den Gereighty4 years ago

Why are people slamming the Irish as a backward people/nation when here in the USA we have many, many laws and lack of facilities that make abortion inaccessible for many women? It is the religious views of the people in power that have made abortion unavailable. i am Irish-american and was raised catholic. If the doctors want to help, they will find a way to secure an abortion-I know this to be a fact in my profession life as a labor and delivery RN. similarly, even if abortion is legal, if no one will perform it, then abortion is unattainable unless self-induced. This was common enough to have entire hospital wards for women who suffered severe complications and death from self-induced or back alley abortions. Why dont people remember history that is barely 60 years ago, and becoming more prevalent as restrictions on abortion in the USA are causing women to commit suicide over unplanned pregnancies. Again, personal knowledge from working and being informed about/privy to reports and raw statistical data.

Judie B.
Judie B5 years ago

"...[I]t was only proper to wait for a report it has commissioned on adopting the legal framework that is due out in the coming months and that once that was in lawmakers would act swiftly to make this change."

Swiftly? Since when is taking twenty years acting "swiftly?" And for those who claim that abortion has always been available in Ireland if the mother's life was in danger, please, tell that to Savita Halappanavar's family.

Heidi H.
Past Member 5 years ago

This is tragic. It is a move to limit the choices of Irish women and makes their worth less than that of a prize race horse. It's shameful

Morgan McDowell
Morgan McDowell5 years ago

As a woman I would never allow the government to tell me what to do with my body!

I don’t think it’s their business!

Pamela T.
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

I find that the Irish seem to be very jealous of my Irish heritage....and that stems from you highly educated women making fun of us...did you all know it is very difficult to make it up in the USA with foreign intel dogging us.

Pamela T.
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

There is not a woman in the world that would not contradict that Ireland has many millions successful women...sometimes you successful women are the problem for those trying to make it up also......altho I met two young Irish men traveling in Africa in 1990 and they stopped to have lunch and not a beer but a coca cola where we were and they were quite rude to us two women after they found out I was an American so I said one thing to embarrass them and they left....did not have a word to say about their rudeness......left meekly...

Pamela T.
Pamela Tracy5 years ago the Irish care if mother and child die for their religious they do not...and I have Irish heritage altho I was never catholic.....I was taken away from the Catholics early on ....

Illyria M.
Illyria M.5 years ago the Irish just not understand how pregnancy works? Because if the pregnant woman dies, the fetus dies too.