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No real choice on abortion in Ireland

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Issue 2352

 The Irish government’s new legislation on abortion will leave many women with a “choice” of an unwanted pregnancy or an unsafe, illegal abortion. 

Those who can afford to will continue to travel abroad to access legal abortion services.

The government came under renewed pressure to change abortion law following the death of Savita Halappanavar last October. Savita was repeatedly refused a life-saving abortion despite the fact that her foetus was not viable.

But as Ireland’s prime minister Enda Kenny admitted, “The law on abortion in Ireland is not being changed”.

The proposed bill will continue to refuse women an abortion unless their life is deemed to be at risk. For instance, it requires up to six doctors to agree that a suicidal woman could access abortion. 

These unnecessary obstacles will cause delays and stress to women. 

And there will still be pressure on doctors not to perform abortions—and on women not to access them. The bill includes a maximum 14 year prison sentence for anyone involved in an “illegal” abortion.

The proposed legislation won’t stop deaths like that of Savita Halappanavar.

Evidence given to the inquest into Savita’s death showed that she could have lived had she been granted an abortion within the first few days of going to hospital. 

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