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Secretary for State Hillary Clinton Photo by: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Hillary Clinton under pressure to address Ireland’s abortion debate during trip

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Secretary for State Hillary Clinton Photo by: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Prominent Irish artists and academics based in the U.S. have appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address the need for reform to Irish abortion laws during her trip to Ireland.

The group, mostly Irish citizens, issued an open letter suggesting that Clinton publicly raise the issue during her State visit.

The letter asks Clinton to “consider addressing this very real and present danger to the lives and health of pregnant women.”

“As Irish citizens, as members of the Irish diaspora in the United States, and as citizens of the US and elsewhere who wish to express solidarity with women in Ireland, we respectfully ask that, as you meet with the Irish government, and as you speak at DCU, you bear in mind this extremely serious gap in Irish law which constitutes a clear violation of basic human rights. “

Signatories to the letter include actor Gabriel Byrne, Riverdance composer Bill Whelan and a number of prominent Irish authors including Colum McCann, Colm Toibin, Peter Quinn and Belinda McKeon.

The letter is in response to the death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar in Galway on October 28. According to her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, the Indian national was refused a termination after been admitted to hospital complaining of back pain. The newly married mother-to-be suffered a miscarriage and later died as a result of septicemia.

“The Irish government must take the right decision to protect the rights of women in Ireland, and it should do so without further delay,” the letter states.

As part of her two-day visit to Ireland, Clinton met with senior figures of the Irish government, including a courtesy visit to Aras an Uachtarain to meet President Michael D Higgins. On Thursday afternoon she delivered a speech on global human rights at Dublin City University.

She will travel to Belfast on Friday where she will discuss the peace process and economic opportunities.

Her trip to Ireland is one of her last in her role as US Secretary of State, which concludes at the end of 2012.

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