Ireland’s First Legal Abortion Saves A Woman’s Life

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Doctors in Dublin performed the first legal abortion under Ireland’s historic abortion law and saved a woman’s life.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed in July allowing women an abortion if their doctor demonstrates that carrying the pregnancy to term will pose a substantial risk to the mother’s life. The law was put in place after Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis after doctors denied her an abortion in October 2012. She was 17-weeks pregnant and was forced to deliver a stillborn child before her death. Her husband told an inquest that his wife asked for an abortion three times before she finally delivered the deceased baby.

Halappanavar was allegedly told by senior midwife at University Hospital in Galway that they could not terminate her dying baby because “it's a Catholic thing.”

Treated at National Maternity Hospital, the unidentified woman was 18-weeks pregnant and carrying twins. Her pregnancy was considered a great risk to her health when her placental membranes ruptured, putting her in serious risk of sepsis. The chance of her carrying the fetuses to term was very slim, doctors decided.

The woman is reportedly doing well several weeks after the procedure.

National Maternity Hospital, however, is apparently not like University Hospital in Galway. They would have performed the abortion even if the law had not been passed.

“Even before the passage of the legislation, Holles Street would have carried out terminations in cases like this, where the prognosis for the pregnancy was very poor,” said a senior hospital source to the Irish Times. “What’s changed is that we can do our work in the best interests of patients without fear of a possible Medical Council case.”

Sources: Raw Story, Irish Times