President Michael D Higgins has passed new laws allowing abortion in Ireland under certain circumstances.
Higgins signed off on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 without referring it to the Supreme Court after meeting his advisers, the Council of State, yesterday.
The new laws will provide for a woman’s right to an abortion if her life is at risk, including from suicide.
The legislation was drawn up amid a public outcry over the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who died in an Irish hospital in October last year.
She had been denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
Her widower, Praveen, claimed the couple had been told a termination was not allowed because “Ireland is a Catholic country”.
In 1992, Dublin’s Supreme Court delivered a judgment, known as the X case, ruling that abortion should be allowed if there was a threat to the mother’s life, including suicide.
The case involved a 14-year-old rape victim who became pregnant and was refused permission by the Irish authorities to travel to the UK for an abortion.
The European Court of Human Rights also ruled that a woman in remission with cancer was discriminated against because she was forced to travel overseas for a termination.