Irish Leader Presents Liberalized Abortion Bill

Would Also Allow Morning-After Pill

DUBLIN, Ireland, OCT. 2, 2001 ( Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern reopened one of the most divisive arguments in this country - when, if ever, doctors should be allowed to perform abortions, the Associated Press reported.

After nearly a decade of political debate and delay, Ahern today published the Human Life and Pregnancy Bill, which, if approved, would allow doctors to perform abortions when women's lives were at risk, AP said.

The bill also would legalize the morning-after pill, taken within 72 hours of intercourse to end a pregnancy.

Ahern said the bill was designed to reconcile conflicting demands in the country's constitution, which bars all abortions, and a 1992 Supreme Court judgment that an abortion should be permitted when a woman might otherwise die.

Ahearn expressed confidence he would win bipartisan support from lawmakers by December. But before it could become law, the measure would need majority support in a public referendum, probably next spring. The legislation must go to a public vote because it proposes a change to the constitution.

The proposed law would allow doctors to kill the unborn child if the woman's life was considered at risk, except in instances of threatened suicide.

Suicide threats were accepted as sufficient grounds in the 1992 judgment, which involved a 14-year-old rape victim who had been barred from traveling to Britain for an abortion. The girl ultimately suffered a miscarriage.

The bill also proposed creating a new government-financed crisis pregnancy agency that Ahern said would offer "caring, practical intervention" in hopes of reducing the approximately 6,500 women who travel each year to Britain for abortions.

ZEN - Zenit
2. oktober 2001