After Savita's death, Ireland to clarify abortion laws

The Irish government on Tuesday announced it will legalise abortions when the mother's life is at risk, and draft laws and regulations to spell out when doctors can terminate a pregnancy.

The announcement comes weeks after the death of Indian-born dentist Dr Savita Halappanavar, who died after being refused an abortion in the largely Roman Catholic country.

The death of 31-year-old Dr. Halappanavar led to a huge public outcry. She died on 28 October at Galway University Hospital. She was 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying.

Dr. Halappanavar's husband said she asked repeatedly for a termination of the pregnancy, but was refused and was told the foetus still showed a heartbeat was still present and ''this is a Catholic country''. She subsequently died of septicaemia or blood poisoning.

The Irish government has decided to repeal legislation that makes abortion a criminal act and to introduce regulations allowing doctors to perform an abortion when a woman's life is regarded as being at risk, including by suicide.

Exactly what rules will be proposed is still unclear, but activists celebrated the move as the first step toward addressing the legal confusion over abortion.