Ireland publishes bill on life-saving abortions

Ireland’s government has published a long-awaited bill explaining the law on when life-saving abortions can be performed in a country that officially bans the practice.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is dividing the government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Some Catholic conservatives within Kenny’s party have vowed to reject the bill because it authorises hospitals to perform abortions on suicidal women, so long as three doctors certify the suicide threat as credible.

Ireland’s constitution bans abortion. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations must be legal in cases required to save the life of the woman. The court specified credible suicide threats as one condition.

Wednesday’s bill would back that court judgment. It faces weeks of debate and likely amendment. Kenny wants it passed by July.