I’d like to start by saying that I’m an English lawyer, I know very little about Irish law. What I do know, I know from Strasbourg case law, and a three and a half hour human rights tutorial (we got carried away…).
By now I’m sure anyone reading this has heard, even in passing, about the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, who died after being refused an abortion in University COllege Hospital Galway last month. For the full facts I suggest you read the original article in the Irish Times or this press release by Galway Pro-Choice The story broke on twitter late on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning the story was spreading rapidly. There were protests outside the Daíl and the Irish Embassy in London yesterday evening, with more protests to come.
Her death is incredibly sad, and I spent most of yesterday in full pro choice feminist rage mode, which I’m sure was fun for my twitter followers. I’m writing this post in order to give a brief summary of the law, but mostly to address an argument being made that effectively amounts to saying that Irish abortion law is fine, no further legislation is needed and Savita’s death was the result of possible medical failings, rather than restrictive abortion laws (spoilers: I think this argument is rubbish).