Many in the country are demanding legalisation of abortion. The debate over abortion in Ireland heated up on Wednesday, Nov 14 after the government confirmed that a woman in the midst of a miscarriage was refused an abortion and died in an Irish hospital after suffering from blood poisoning.
Karnataka-born Savita Halappanavar, 31, died on Oct 28, three days after she was admitted to the university hospital, Galway, for treatment of a messy 17-week pregnancy that had left her in agony. Doctors denied their request for an abortion stating that "This is a Catholic country".
Her death has triggered calls for a review of the Catholic nation's complete ban on termination of pregnancy, even on medical grounds.
According to British newspapers, an Irish deputy, Patrick Nulty, said, Halappanavar's death points at the "pressing and urgent need" for parliament to "show responsibility and legislate", calling on his party to press for reforming the abortion law.
Ireland's constitution officially bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling found the procedure should be legalised for situations when the woman's life is at risk from continuing the pregnancy. Five governments since have refused to pass a law resolving the confusion, leaving Irish hospitals reluctant to terminate pregnancies except in the most obviously life-threatening circumstances.
The vast bulk of Irish women wanting abortions, an estimated 4,000 per year, simply travel next door to England, where abortion has been legal on demand since 1967. But that option is difficult, if not impossible, for women in failing health.