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Ireland passes “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” into law

Irish President Michael D. Higgins has passed the controversially-titled “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” into law. As reported in July’s image news, it will allow terminations to be carried out where there is a threat to the mother, or where there is medical consensus that the mother would take her own life over the pregnancy. Opponents argue there was already provision under Irish law for mothers with suicidal intentions. Furthermore, the Irish Committee on Health and Children heard “unanimous testimony” that termination cannot be considered a viable option for depressed pregnant women when the bill was being discussed in February of this year.

Disappointingly, the bill was also not referred to Ireland’s Supreme Court, where its constitutionality would have been debated – it was signed after only four hours of discussion between Higgins and the Council of State. However, even before it had reached this stage, the leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny, refused to allow his party a free vote on the issue, leading it to be cleared in Parliament in a vote of 127 to 31.

Several ministers were also excluded from the party for refusing to support the legislation at the Parliamentary stage. One minister, Lucinda Creighton, voted against the suicide clause and as a result lost her role as minister for European affairs. Whilst declaring her vote was not religiously motivated, and suggesting that it was just not a “liberal cause”,  as Peter Saunders has commented, “Ms Creighton is to be commended for her courageous stand. What a shame that more did not stand with her.”




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