The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

DUBLIN (AFP) – Abortion became legal in Ireland on Tuesday in limited cases where the mother’s life is at risk, after President Michael D. Higgins signed a law that has exposed deep divisions in the Catholic-majority nation.

Irish lawmakers had overwhelmingly voted through the abortion bill earlier this month, prompted by an outcry over the death last year of an Indian woman who had been refused a termination in an Irish hospital.

“President Higgins has today signed the bill into law,” a statement from the president’s office confirmed on Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said it was “a historic moment” for the women of Ireland.

“The core purpose of this legislation is about saving women’s lives. It is about providing for a very basic human right,” he said in a statement.

Ending years of uncertainty over the legal status of abortion in Ireland, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act permits the termination of a pregnancy if doctors certify there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

It follows a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 that found Ireland had failed to properly implement the constitutional right to abortion where a woman’s life is at risk.

Under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, women in Ireland are also legally entitled to an abortion if it is needed to save a mother’s life — but six successive governments had failed to introduce legislation to reflect this.

The death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital last October placed Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws under global scrutiny and forced the current government to act.

Halappanavar, who was from India, had sought a termination when told she was miscarrying, but the request was refused as her life was not at risk at the time. She died of blood poisoning days later.

In a sign of the rifts that remain on abortion in predominantly Catholic Ireland, tens of thousands of people protested both in favor of and against a change in the law following Halappanavar’s death.

The lower house of the Irish parliament passed the legislation with 127 votes in favor and 31 against earlier this month. It passed through the upper house last week.

But seven lawmakers including a junior minister were expelled from Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael party for voting against the legislation.

Lucinda Creighton, junior minister with responsibility for European affairs, quit her cabinet post after voting against the bill over her concerns that a woman deemed suicidal will be allowed a termination.

The new act permits an abortion if an obstetrician and two psychiatrists unanimously agree that an expectant mother is a suicide risk, in a clause that deeply divided opinion.

Anti-abortion groups are widely expected to challenge aspects of the new law through the courts.

“For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being,” said Caroline Simons of the Pro-Life Campaign. “The Pro Life Campaign will now devote its energies to the repeal of this unjust law.”

Some pro-choice campaigners say the law does not go far enough and will not stop the flow of women travelling from Ireland to Britain for terminations.

Almost 4,000 women traveled from Ireland to England or Wales for abortions last year, according to the British health ministry.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

FBI Director Chris Wray told members of Congress on Tuesday that the number of domestic terror cases in the United States has "exploded" over the past year and a half, confirming many suspicions surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Tuesday, Wray told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the FBI's domestic terrorism caseload has "more than doubled" since the spring of 2020, "from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations."

Keep reading... Show less

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

On Monday, Rep. Bennie Thompson made it clear that the House Select Committee investigating events related to the January 6 insurgency could begin issuing subpoenas within the next few days. Back on August 25, the committee sent a request for documents to a long list of recipients. While some recipients have turned over the requested information, a large number have not. As CNN reports, Thompson will skip right past the farce of sending any of these people or groups reminders or asking them politely to show up at the House. Instead, the committee will move straight to the subpoena phase and let the courts tell them how much executive privilege does not apply to this case.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}