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Bacik says 'legislation is clearly necessary' amid outcry over Savita death

The death of Savita Praveen Halappanavar after a miscarriage at University Hospital Galway last month has prompted a strong reaction.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive/Press Association Images

LABOUR SENATOR IVANA Bacik has said that the death of Savita Praveen Halappanavar after she suffered a miscarriage shows a clear need to legislate for the X Case in Ireland.

Halappanavar died just over two weeks ago at University Hospital Galway after suffering a miscarriage over two days and later developing septicaemia.

It is reported in today’s Irish Times that despite repeated requests, the 31-year-0ld Indian woman was denied an abortion.

The case has prompted a strong reaction from pro-choice groups who have called on the government to legislate for the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the X Case which said that abortion is permitted in cases where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

Despite the legal ruling, a lack of legislation for this ruling has led to some groups saying there is not enough clarity surrounding what doctors can and cannot do in such cases, with Bacik saying this morning that there was a “clear need now for certainty.”

“I think there’s a clear indication that governments’ failure to legislate over a period of years is largely responsible for the uncertainty around the law,” she told Newstalk’s Breakfast programme.

She said that guidelines from the Medical Council of Ireland allowed doctors to carry out a termination when the mother’s life is at risk but said that there was a lack of clarity and lack of criteria because of the lack of legislation.

“Lack of clarity makes the law so problematic and leads to these appalling cases,” she said while reaffirming that the Labour Party was a pro-choice one.

The government has set up an expert group to examine a European Court of Human Rights ruling on Ireland’s abortion laws and it is expected to issue a report shortly though it has already been delayed for a number of months.

In an interview with TIME magazine in September, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he was personally against abortion and added: “I think that this issue is not of priority for government now.”

The Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case of Savita Halappanavar.

A request to the Pro Life Campaign for comment has not yet been responded to.

A spokesperson for Youth Defence, another pro-life group, said that it would be issuing a statement shortly, saying it had to “consider the case carefully first”.

Read: Calls for X Case legislation after woman denied an abortion dies in Galway hospital

Read: Ireland and abortion: the facts >

Read: Overdue report from abortion expert group expected ‘shortly’

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Hugh O'Connell

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