Ireland passes historic abortion bill allowing it in limited circumstances
Minister resigns as vote of 127 to 31 enforces Supreme Court verdict in historic move
Ireland’s parliament has passed an historic abortion bill by 127 votes to 31. It will now be sent to the rubber stamp Senate where passage is assured.
President Michael D. Higgins will pass it into law or he may refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.
The bill called The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill came about to satisfy a 1992 Supreme Court judgement known as the X case where a suicidal 14 year old was raped and refused travel to Britain to have an abortion.
The Supreme Court ruled that abortion should be allowed if there was a threat to the mother’s life or if she was suicidal.
Nothing was done to give a legislative framework to the decision however, until the Bill was drawn up following the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who passed away of sepsis in a Galway hospital in October of 2012.
She was denied an abortion as she miscarried 17-weeks into her pregnancy and she later died.
Despite pleading for an abortion she was told it was not allowed because "Ireland is a Catholic country."
Five members of the ruling Fine Gael party refused to vote with the government and were dismissed from the party.
European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton was the most high profile after she voted against the bill over the suicide clause. She was replaced by Paschal Donohoe as minister.
Creighton said after her resignation: "It's very disappointing and I would rather that I wasn't here.
For me, this is a very important piece of legislation, one which is against a commitment that we made at the last election - a promise had been made, a very fundamental promise - on abortion.
"I just felt that I couldn't remove from that promise that we made at the last election."
She said it "was not possible" to compromise on matters of "life and death."
Sinn Fein member Peadar Toibin also voted against his party’s whip and is likely to be expelled.
A 14-year prison term for procuring an abortion outside the narrow guidelines is also part of the bill.
That replaces a penal servitude for life sentence in the old legislation. Liberal opponents had argued against any prison sentence
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