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Unpublished Paper
Reforming Irish Abortion Law in the Wake of Tragedy: Looking to Portugal and Germany for Culturally Sensitive Models
ExpressO (2014)
  • Kimi M. Ide-Foster, Miss, University of Hawaii at Manoa

On October 18, 2012, “inhumane laws, lack of guidelines on how to apply the laws that do exist, fear of prosecution on behalf of doctors, medical incompetence, [and] influences of the most conservative wing of the Catholic Church over hospitals” all merged together to end in one of the saddest deaths in modern medicine. The death of Savita Halappanavar, a thirty one-year old married dentist, in an Irish hospital shocked the country. Dying at the Galway University Hospital Intensive Care Unit after being 17 weeks pregnant and found to be miscarrying, her repeated requests for an abortion fell on deaf ears. A team of nurses and doctors repeatedly told the Halappanavars: “Sorry, can’t help you. It’s a Catholic country. Can’t help you. It’s a Catholic Team.” As the clock ticked on, Halappanavar begged for an abortion, which was denied so long as the doctors could confirm a fetal heartbeat. Three painful days later, Halappanavar died of septicemia, or blood poisoning. This story has not been exaggerated or sensationalized. It is the tragic reality of the broken abortion law in Ireland. Halappanavar’s death may be the final flame necessary to light the proverbial tinderbox on the Irish abortion question. A new law is being developed in the Republic of Ireland to address the pervasive inconsistency and general lack of clarity that has plagued the Irish abortion discourse for as long as it has been in existence. However, it is unlikely that the new law will sufficiently address the health and wellness issues posed by the current law. While a clarification of the existing law is long overdue and extremely necessary, a continuance of the nearly total ban on abortion will still produce discriminatory effects against those who cannot travel to obtain access to services abroad. It is the position of this paper that Ireland would be better advised to adopt a regulatory scheme that combines various elements of the newly reformed Portuguese laws with the German counseling model.

  • Abortion,
  • Ireland,
  • Savita Halappanavar,
  • Germany,
  • Portugal,
  • Germany,
  • Catholic Countries,
  • Constitutional Model,
  • Women's Reproductive Rights
Publication Date
March 26, 2014
Citation Information
Kimi M. Ide-Foster. "Reforming Irish Abortion Law in the Wake of Tragedy: Looking to Portugal and Germany for Culturally Sensitive Models" ExpressO (2014)
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