Ireland legislates for limited abortion after woman's death

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Ireland’s government published outline legislation allowing for abortion in limited circumstances, including when doctors agree a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide, in what Prime Minister Enda Kenny said is an attempt to bring “clarity” to the state’s position on the practice.

Two doctors must agree a real and substantial risk to the life of a woman exists during pregnancy to approve a termination, according to government documents published in Dublin late Tuesday. In cases in which risk of suicide is a factor, three doctors must agree.

Successive governments, fearing a backlash in a mainly Catholic nation, have avoided introducing laws to fasten down the meaning of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling granting women the right to an abortion when the mother’s life is at risk. The case of Savita Halappanavar, who died last year of septicemia after doctors decided not to carry out a termination, reignited the battle over abortion.

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