Talk 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.