Early Friday morning, Irish lawmakers passed a bill allowing abortions if the mother's life is in danger. For the first time the Roman Catholic country approved a bill in the lower house of the parliament (Dail) in a 127 to 31 vote. The controversial bill will allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy if two physicians can verify that there is a "real and substantial" risk to the mother's health in continuing with the pregnancy. Only one physician's verification is necessary if the health risks to the mother are immediate. One of the more controversial aspects of the bill is the provision that allows three physicians to approve a termination if the woman is in danger of committing suicide due to the pregnancy.
This legislation was prompted by the preventable death of Savita Halappanavar in November 2012. Halappanavar was 17-weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of severe back pain. Doctors determined that she was miscarrying, and despite serious threats to her health, the physicians refused to remove the fetus because there was a heartbeat. After the heartbeat stopped, she was transferred to intensive care where she died three days later of a condition similar to blood poisoning.
Many countries in the world are now facing debates on abortion laws. Most recently, an 11-year-old Chilean girl who was raped and faces serious health risks if she chooses to continue the pregnancy has sparked serious debate in her country. And a woman from El Salvador was forced to challenge the country's Supreme Court in order to receive an abortion that would save her life, in which the court rejected.
Media Resources: BBC 7/12/13; LA Times 7/11/13; New York Times 6/4/13; Feminist Newswire 7/8/13, 4/25/13, 11/14/12
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .