Risk to life or health

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW -

4. (1) It shall be law­ful to carry out a ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy in ac­cor­dance with this Head where 2 med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers cer­tify that, in their rea­son­able opin­ion formed in good faith –

(a) there is a risk to the life of, or of se­ri­ous harm to the health of, the preg­nant woman,

(b) the foe­tus has not reached vi­a­bil­ity, and

(c) it is ap­pro­pri­ate to carry out the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy in or­der to avert that risk. (2) Of the 2 med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers re­ferred to in sub­head (1)–(a) one shall be an ob­ste­tri­cian, and (b) the other shall be an ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner.

(3) The ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy to which the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion re­lates shall be car­ried out –

(a) by the ob­ste­tri­cian re­ferred to in sub­head (2) (a), or (b) by an­other ob­ste­tri­cian, where the med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers re­ferred to in sub­head (1) have made such ar­range­ments as may be nec­es­sary for the car­ry­ing out of the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy by that ob­ste­tri­cian. (4) Noth­ing in this Head shall af­fect the op­er­a­tion of Head 7.

DI­VID­ING LINES This sec­tion refers to the cir­cum­stances in which abor­tion will be law­ful be­tween the 12th and 24th week of preg­nancy.

Be­yond the first trimester of preg­nancy, the leg­is­la­tion states that two med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers must cer­tify that there is a risk to the life, or of se­ri­ous harm to the health, of the preg­nant woman for a ter­mi­na­tion to be per­mit­ted. There is no dis­tinc­tion made be­tween men­tal and phys­i­cal health.

One of the two med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers must be an ob­ste­tri­cian and the other a “rel­e­vant” med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner.

Ter­mi­na­tions would not be per­mit­ted be­yond the point of vi­a­bil­ity, which is ac­cepted by med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers and by cam­paign­ers on both sides of the de­bate as the 24th week of preg­nancy. Those op­posed to re­peal­ing the Eighth Amend­ment con­test the grounds on which ter­mi­na­tions would be ac­ces­si­ble, in par­tic­u­lar that of men­tal health. Most op­po­nents of re­peal are sup­port­ive of the law which per­mits abor­tion when a woman’s life is at risk, in­clud­ing by way of sui­cide.

Anti-abor­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions claim the ground of men­tal health may be used by women to ac­cess ter­mi­na­tions when Down Syn­drome is di­ag­nosed by claim­ing this con­sti­tutes a risk to a woman’s men­tal health.

Those who favour re­peal point to sim­i­lar claims be­ing made when the Pro­tec­tion of Life dur­ing Preg­nancy Act was be­ing de­bated and the grounds of sui­cide. Seventy-seven ter­mi­na­tions have taken place in the first three years of its en­act­ment; seven of those on the grounds of sui­cide.

Ter­mi­na­tions on the grounds of a non-fa­tal foetal ab­nor­mal­ity, such as Down Syn­drome, are out­side the law and are there­fore pro­hib­ited.

There have also been con­cerns re­gard­ing the lack of clar­ity on what con­sti­tutes “se­ri­ous harm to the health of the mother”. Those op­posed to re­peal state this may lead to ter­mi­na­tions be­ing ac­ces­si­ble on wide grounds.

Those in favour of re­peal in­sist com­plex med­i­cal de­ci­sions can­not be de­fined in leg­is­la­tion and that each case is dif­fer­ent. They ar­gue that defin­ing “se­ri­ous harm” to a woman’s health would tie the hands of doc­tors.

‘‘ Seventy-seven ter­mi­na­tions have taken place in the first three years; seven on grounds of sui­cide

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.