Following the death of Savita Halappanavar in October, the Irish government has decided to legalize its abortion laws. The 31-year-old Halappanavar was seventeen weeks pregnant when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital on October 20 with back pains; tests performed at the hospital showed that the pregnancy was not viable. Though Halappanavar repeatedly requested an abortion, she was reportedly told that Ireland “is a Catholic country” and the pregnancy would not be terminated. Four days after Halappanavar was admitted, the fetal heartbeat stopped; however, her condition continued to deteriorate and she died of septicemia three days later.
Currently, abortions in Ireland are allowed only when the woman’s life (distinct from health) is in danger; however, there is no one agreed-upon method for determining when that is the case. The new laws, which, according to the Telegraph, are expected to be “ready by Easter,” would mean that abortion is no longer considered a criminal act. This legislation would also clarify when doctors can terminate a pregnancy when the woman’s life is considered to be at risk, “including by suicide.”
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.