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Irish govt must clarify on abortion issue: Amnesty

H S Rao London, Nov 17, 2012 (PTI)
Mary Phelan holds a picture of Savita Halappanavar in protest outside University Hospital Galway in Galway, Ireland November 15, 2012. The Irish government on Thursday pledged to urgently clarify its vague abortion laws after an Indian woman died in an Irish hospital after being denied a termination, sparking an outcry from voters and criticism from the Indian government. Thousands held a candle-lit vigil outside parliament on Wednesday after the news broke of death of Savita Halappanavar, 31, from septicaemia days after miscarrying 17 weeks into her pregnancy and her husband said she had been denied an abortion. REUTERS

Observing that the tragic death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar illustrates a gap in Irish law, rights group Amnesty today asked Ireland to ensure that its domestic policy on access to abortion is in line with international human rights law.









Amnesty International has written to Irish Minister for Health James Reilly over the issue expressing its concern.

It said Amnesty is concerned that the tragic case of Savita illustrates a gap in Irish law and policy on the most basic human rights level -- that is a woman's right to access abortion where her life is at risk.

"International human rights law is clear about the right of a woman to access a safe and legal abortion where her life is at risk," said Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland.

"Successive Irish governments have failed in their duty to provide the necessary clarity on how this right is protected and vindicated, leaving women in Ireland in a very vulnerable position. Government must offer this clarity without further delay," he said.

Noting this right has already been established as a Constitutional principle by the Irish Supreme Court, the body expressed concern about lack of clarity on the issue.

"Ireland has been subject to criticism from international human rights bodies for its failure to bring domestic legislation in line with international human rights principles, including a very clear ruling from the European Court of Human Rights," said Marianne Mollmann, senior policy advisor at Amnesty International Secretariat.

Savita, a 31-year old Indian dentist after doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy even after telling her that she was miscarrying.
The incident has reignited the debate over right to abortion in cases of risk in the Catholic country.

The report of the UN's Review of Ireland's human rights record in October last year contains repeated calls from UN member states to bring Ireland's domestic law in line with international human rights obligations and at the very least regulate access to life-saving abortions.

In 2011 the UN Committee Against Torture urged Ireland to clarify the scope of legal abortion through statutory law.





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