President Michael D Higgins on the 20th December, signed – The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 into the Ireland law. The Act provides the legislative framework for the provision of abortion care in defined circumstances from 1 January 2019.
So long as a 3-day waiting period has elapsed, abortion care is lawful on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is also lawful for reasons of risk to a woman’s life or of serious harm to her health and in cases of fatal foetal anomaly. Abortion remains criminalized in all other cases.
However, the criminal provisions do not apply to a woman in respect of her own pregnancy. Abortion is free to persons normally resident in Ireland.
The Act was signed after Irish citizens voted overwhelmingly to overturn an effective ban on abortion in a May 2018 referendum.
Irish abortion law received worldwide attention on the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, who had been denied an abortion while suffering a septic miscarriage. This increased calls to repeal the Eighth Amendment. The constitutional and legislative provisions were discussed at a Citizens’ Assembly in 2016–17, and at an Oireachtas committee in 2017, both of which recommended substantial reform and framed the debate of the referendum in May 2018.
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie