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Irish PM receives letters in blood over abortion bill

Ireland published a draft new abortion bill on Thursday after Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he had received plastic foetuses and letters written in blood claiming he is a murderer. The parliamentary bill was published ahead of the release of a long-awaited report into why an Indian-born dentist who was miscarrying died after being refused an abortion in an Irish hospital.


Protesters hold placards and candles in memory of Indian-born dentist Savita Halappanavar in support of legislative change on abortion in Ireland. File pic/AFP

The death of Savita Halappanavar (31), in October ignited calls for the new legislation in Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country. The new legislation is aimed at clarifying the rules that legalise abortions in exceptional cases where doctors deem it necessary to save a woman’s life. Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland except if there is a substantial risk to the mother’s life but there has been much confusion about implementing it. Kenny said he had received a barrage of insults over the legislation.

“I am getting medals, scapulars, plastic foetuses, letters written in blood, telephone calls all over the system,” he told parliament on Wednesday. “I am now being branded by personnel around the country as being a murderer, and that I am going to have on my soul the death of 20 million babies.”

Kenny said he was a Catholic but he was proud to be a Taoiseach, or prime minister, for all the Irish people. “I am proud to stand here as a public representative, as a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic but not a Catholic Taoiseach. I am a Taoiseach for all of the people that is my job,” he said. Halappanavar died of blood poisoning in a hospital in Galway. Her husband claimed she had repeatedly asked medics for a termination, but the request was refused ‘because Ireland is a Catholic country’.

Report on Savita’s death to be published
Ireland will publish a long-awaited report into why a miscarrying woman died in an Irish hospital after being refused an abortion, authorities said on Thursday. The 108-page report is expected to detail many failures in the medical care given to Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist living in the western city of Galway. The expert report, led by London obstetrics professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, is expected to detail several points when Galway doctors and nurses should have detected the rising septicemia in her blood.
 

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