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Ireland to introduce abortion legislation

The Irish government on Tuesday announced plans to introduce legislation [press release] to clarify that abortions are legal when the mother's life is at risk. The legislation is intended to put Ireland in compliance with a 2010 ruling [JURIST report] by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] which held that Ireland failed to provide "effective and accessible procedures" to allow a Lithuanian women to assert her constitutional right to a lawful abortion. Said Health Minister Dr James Reilly [official website]:

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. We must fulfill 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.
Tuesday's announcement comes shortly after the death of Savita Halappanavar [BBC report], a 31-year-old dentist who was denied a potentially life saving abortion in Ireland, which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Following her death, Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore [official website] pledged [JURIST report] to bring "legal clarity" to the country's abortion laws.

Abortion remains a controversial issue around the world. In October the ECHR condemned [JURIST report] Poland's treatment of a 14-year-old rape victim who sought an abortion. Also that month Uruguay's president signed a bill to legalize abortion [JURIST report] in that country. In August South Korea's Constitutional Court ruled that the nation's 59-year-old ban on abortions is constitutional [JURIST report]. In April the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned the ban [JURIST report] against abortion of brain-damaged fetuses.

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