The much-awaited report of an expert group set up by the Irish government to review the country’s controversial anti-abortion regime to bring it in line with a critical ruling of the European Court of Human Rights is said to have recommended legislation for the “limited provision” of abortion.
The Health Minister, it says, should specify particular centres where abortion can take place.
Although the group was set up before the controversy over Savita Halappanavar’s death after she was denied abortion despite apparent risk to her life, her case is thought to have prompted it to expedite its work and concentrated minds on the need to review the existing law.
The report will be discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
Among other things, it reportedly calls for the proposed legislation to be followed by regulation to deal with “detailed and practical matters.”
Crucially, it recommends an appeal process for women who have been refused an abortion, according to The Sunday Business Post, which claimed to have “seen” the report.
“While it sets out a series of options for the government, it is clear that its favoured approach is ‘legislation plus regulations’ — a new Act providing for limited abortion, with ministerial regulations to follow,” it said.
The group, which was chaired by Justice Sean Ryan and included medical, legal and civil service representatives, stresses that even now abortion in Ireland is legal under certain circumstances such as when a woman’s life is at risk because of pregnancy — including a risk of suicide.
But in the absence of specific guidelines, doctors tend to play it safe for fear of falling foul of the broader ban on abortion with the result that even rape victims are known to have been refused abortion. A lack of clarity is also blamed for Ms. Halappanavar’s death.
Keywords: Savita Halappanavar death, Ireland government probe, abortion rights, James Reilly, Irealnd Health Minister, Health Information and Quality Authority, Health Service Executive, Galway University Hospital