Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Friday | November 16, 2012
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Ireland calls for life-saving abortion law

Pressure mounted yesterday for the Irish government to draft a law spelling out when life-saving abortions can be performed, a demand that came after a pregnant woman who was denied an abortion died.

Activists protested yesterday in Belfast a day after thousands rallied in London, Dublin, Cork and Galway in memory of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who died a week after doctors said she was starting to miscarry her 17-week-old fetus.


Despite her rising pain, doctors refused her request for an abortion for three days because the fetus had a heartbeat. She died in the hospital from blood poisoning three days after the fetus died and was surgically removed.

Irish gynaecologists demanded yesterday that the government close a 20-year-old hole in the country's abortion law that leaves them fearing prosecution if they abort a fetus to protect a woman's life.

"We would like to be able to practise medicine in a safe environment legally. The current situation is like a sword of Damocles hanging over us," Dr. Peter Boylan of the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said yesterday. "If we do something with a good intention, but it turns out to be illegal, the consequences are extremely serious for medical practitioners."

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