THERE is broad agreement that the Dáil must provide a legislative framework for a woman’s right to an abortion when her life depends on it, yet division persists about the inclusion of suicide as a risk to life.

People on the anti-choice side of thedebate, citing the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act, say that inclusion of suicide in any legislation would open the floodgates to abortion-on-demand in this country. 

This claim is specious. Legislation here would have to comply with the constitutional position that an abortion can only be countenanced when there is "real and substantial risk" to the life of the woman. 

In contrast, the UK’s decades-old liberalisation of its laws provided for an abortion in circumstances where "the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman" or when "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped". 

You don’t have to be a legal expert to appreciate that the Oireachtas is precluded, by the pre-eminent legal authority in this country — the Constitution — from enacting similar provisions here. 

Full article by Colette Browne here