After the death of a woman who was denied the termination of her pregnancy on Wednesday, Ireland’s government is planning on clarifying its notoriously ambiguous abortion laws. Savita Halappanavar, an Indian Hindu living in Ireland, died after a miscarriage seventeen weeks into her pregnancy.
Because Ireland is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, it has some of the most stringent abortion laws in the world, but until now, laws have failed to specify what constitutes as a high enough risk to the health of the mother to justify an abortion. Most of the time, these decisions are left up to individual doctors.
Said Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore on Thursday, “We need to bring legal clarity to this issue and that is what we are going to do.”
The fight to clear up this legislation has been going on for years now. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland must clarify its position. Critics say the government has been dragging their heels on the issue for nearly a decade now.
Spurred on the global outcry over Halappanavar’s death, the government will receive recommendations from an expert panel and will report back with results by the end of the month, Reuters reports. Said Gilmore in a statement to the Irish Parliament, “I don’t think as a country we should allow a situation where women’s rights are put at risk in this way.”