Ireland passes its first abortion law

IRELAND-HEALTH-ABORTION-POLITICS-DEMOTalk about baby steps (no pun intended). Not even a year ago,  Savita Halappanavar died after being refused a life-saving abortion in Ireland. Her story brought international attention to exactly how strict the staunchly Catholic nation’s abortion ban was.

In 1992 the Supreme Court did rule that abortions were allowed in cases where the pregnancy was life-threatening. Unfortunately this decision was too vague and not enough to save Halappanavar’s life. This is why the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was so important. The bill passed in the first vote earlier this month and President Michael D. Higgins signed it into law today.

“The law permits abortions to alleviate life-threatening conditions, including a woman’s own threat to commit suicide if refused a termination.”

Some of us recognize that this new law still puts Ireland a long way from achieving reproductive justice. But for a country that has a 14 year maximum sentence (reduced from life) for those who undergo abortion, this is a tiny step in the right direction. Hopefully it broadens the dialogue about reproductive rights in the Emerald Isle.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

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  • Susie

    The “staunchly Catholic nation”? Please check your facts, this is constantly stated on American news reports when abortion in Ireland is brought up, and it’s wrong, a mix of stereotyping and not doing your research. It might be nice to paint us as a backwards country full of farmers and very strong Catholics, but that’s not the truth.

    The truth is while the majority of people might identify as Catholic(84%), most people do not go to mass(only 18% regularly attend, verses about 50% of Catholics in the US, apparently)* and most disagree with the Church’s teachings on abortion(over 80% of Irish people support abortion in the cases of rape, if a woman’s life is at risk or if the foetus is not viable).

    It’s not the Catholic church that’s the problem in Ireland, it’s the overly religious, OTT pro-lifers(a very small group, but with very loud, obnoxious tactics, mostly funded by the US as it happens), lazy politicians who don’t want to touch a controversial topic like abortion with a stick and a bad health system that’s gotten worse with the recession.

    Catholicism has very little to do with this, and to say Ireland is a ‘devoutly Catholic’ country is just plain wrong, and to be honest, a little insulting.