Government releases abortion bill guidelines

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The government has released detailed guidelines on the implementation of its abortion legislation, setting out the cirucmstances in which an abortion can be legally performed.

According to the Irish Times, the guidelines go into great detail on when a woman is pregnant and suicidal. They say when there is suicidal intent, a termination is legal where three doctors have examined the woman and “have jointly certified in good faith that:

a) “there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the woman’s life

b) this risk is one that can only be averted by a termination of pregnancy, and

c) the medical practitioners have, in good faith, had regard to the need to preserve unborn human life where practicable”.

One of the doctors must be an obstetrician-gynaecologist and two must be psychiatrists.

When a woman completes her first assessment with a psychiatrist and he or she is of the opinion that she is suicidal and requires a termination to avert suicide, he or she “will certify on the prescribed form and seek a second psychiatric assessment for the patient”.

The guidelines say that a woman's GP shoudl be consulted “where practicable” and if the woman consents to it.

The guidelines make provision for doctors with conscientious objections to carrying out abortions, but the nature of those provisions is unclear, with the guidelines saying that Conscientious objection is not applicable in emergencies where the woman’s life is at immediate risk.”

Cora Sherlock, chair of the Pro-Life campaign, said that the government's assertion last year that abortion legislation was immediately necessary to save women's lives was misleading the public.

“If this were true, it wouldn’t have taken a full year to draw up the guidelines. The truth is the legislation was never about life-saving treatments. It was always about Fine Gael capitulating to the Labour Party, who had campaigned for 20 years for an abortion regime in Ireland. The assurances sought by some Fine Gael TDs prior to the passage of the legislation have now been shown to be worthless.”

Ms Sherlock said the guidelines mean that “all it takes to sign the life of an unborn baby away is for two like-minded psychiatrists to sanction the abortion without having to produce a shred of medical evidence that it would help save the life of the mother”.

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