Ireland appears on course to legalise abortion in extremely restricted circumstances after lawmakers voted tonight to support a bill that would permit pregnancies to be terminated when deemed necessary to save the mother’s life.
Catholic leaders warned that the proposed law, which faces a final vote next week, would become a “Trojan horse” leading eventually to widespread abortion access in Ireland. But Prime Minister Enda Kenny insisted Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion would remain unaffected, and his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill won overwhelming backing in a 138-24 vote.
Ireland’s 1986 constitutional ban on abortion commits the government to defend the life of the unborn and the mother equally. Ireland’s abortion law has been muddled since 1992, when the Supreme Court ruled that this “ban” actually meant that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman - including, most controversially, from her own suicide threats.