The Irish government’s move to relax the strict anti-abortion laws in the wake of the uproar over the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in October last year after being refused abortion, suffered a setback on Saturday as the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) rejected a series of proposals to review the ban.

IMO’s annual conference in Killarney voted down a motion calling for abortion to be allowed in cases where there was a substantial risk to the life of the mother. It also rejected motions on allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest and certain other special circumstances.

This is likely to put the main professional medical body on a collision course with the government which has promised to bring in legislation to make abortion legal in case where the mother’s life may be at risk.

IMO’s move came two days after an inquiry into Savita’s death found that she could have been saved had doctors not focused all their attention on saving the foetus. Doctors refused her repeated requests for abortion even when her life seemed in danger.

“The investigating team considers there was an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped, together with an under-emphasis on the need to focus an appropriate attention on monitoring for and managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother,” the inquiry said

Savita, (31) was 17 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital on October 21 last year and was found to be miscarrying.

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