Two months after initially proposing an amendment to allow abortions under certain rare circumstances, the Irish government has officially passed the loophole in their draconian restrictions with an overwhelming vote in favor (127-31) — but not without major grumbling from the church and religious officials.
The new laws will allow abortion in the case of a life-threatening emergency or if there is a "real and substantial" risk that the woman will take her own life, which must be determined by two psychiatrists and one obstetrician. (The religious sector took issue with this in particular, deeming it a "Trojan horse" that would allow other women to slip through the cracks.) Originally exceptions were also proposed in the cases of rape and incest, but ran into too many obstacles and were sacrificed in order to achieve this small victory.
Ironically (actual ironic or Alanis Morissette ironic? I may never know), these new exceptions wouldn't have necessarily saved the life of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old pregnant woman whose unnecessary death from miscarriage put these laws on the fast track. It's still left in the doctor's hands what constitutes a severe enough "medical emergency" that qualifies a woman for an abortion as opposed to what falls lower on the priorities list. (And if the doctor has his/her own bias, that'll almost certainly play into it.)
In terms of the suicide exception, obviously, the three-doctor rule will undoubtedly prevent women who don't have the means or resources to get the required diagnoses.
Image via AP