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Rival pro-life and pro-choice protestors clash in Dublin in 2009. Abortion remains one of Ireland's most divisive subjects. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

GPs call for law to allow termination in non-viable foetal abnormality

The Irish College of General Practitioners narrowly passed the motion at its annual meeting today.

THE BODY REPRESENTING general practitioners in Ireland has passed a motion calling for Irish law to permit abortions in cases where a foetus has a fatal abnormality and is not viable outside the womb.

The motion was passed at the Irish College of General Practitioners’ AGM in Galway this afternoon.

The proposal was carried only narrowly, and required several counts to be adopted.

Delegates rejected a motion which called for the government’s abortion laws to allow terminations to women who had become pregnant as a result of a criminal act.

They also rejected an outright call of support for the draft version of the Protection of Life In Pregnancy Bill, and instead called for further clarity in the law “founded on evidence-based medical guidelines” where there was a real and substantial risk to a mother’s life.

It is not conclusively clear whether the Constitution would currently permit the termination of pregnancies where the foetus has no prospect of survival outside the womb.

Legal experts told the Oireachtas health committee in January that a previous Supreme Court ruling meant a child with no prospect of survival outside the womb did not fall under the Constitutional definition of ‘life’.

However, as that ruling was in a separate case, relating to frozen embryos, there is no clear judicial guidance on whether the same theory applies to a live embryo in utero.

Dr Kirsten Fuller of the Pro-Life Campaign said the rejection of the motion expressing support for the current draft proposals was “a clear defeat for the pro-choice side”.

“Introducing abortion on the ground of threatened suicide would certainly not be evidence based. Following today’s vote and the rejection of abortion at the recent IMO conference, the Government cannot ignore the concerns being raised by doctors,” she said.

Read: Taoiseach has ‘no intention of playing party politics’ over abortion issue

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