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Changing Ireland’s abortion law will not save any mothers and could lead to 11,000 more abortions annually

by Peter Saunders, CMF

Savita Halappanavar was an Indian woman who tragically died on 28 October in Galway University Hospital, Ireland from overwhelming infection after allegedly being denied an abortion.

Her death, on 28 October, is now the subject of two investigations by Ireland's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and by University Hospital Galway.

The death has led to an international campaign calling for Ireland’s abortion laws to be changed.

Currently abortion in Ireland is illegal under section 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

However in 1992 Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled in the X case that abortion is admissible in the case of a ‘real and substantial risk’ to the mother’s life (as opposed to her health).

Section 21.4 of Ireland’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners also recognises that in exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to intervene to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother.

So both Irish law and Irish medical professional codes already allow abortion to save the life of the mother (see detail on my earlier blog).

As I have previously argued if faced with a choice between intervening to save one life (that of the mother) or standing by and allowing two (both mother and baby) to die, then I would have no hesitation in intervening and have previously already done so in the case of ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

I have never heard a doctor say he or she would not intervene in this type of situation although some such doctors might possibly exist.

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