Ireland ends abortion ban

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The first official results declared on Saturday in Ireland’s historic referendum on its strict abortion laws showed that 66% backed repealing the constitutional ban on terminations.


Abortion is the ending of pregnancy by removing an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus. An abortion that occurs spontaneously is also known as a miscarriage. An abortion may be caused purposely and is then called an induced abortion, or less frequently, “induced miscarriage”. The word abortion is often used to mean only induced abortions. A similar procedure after the fetus could potentially survive outside the womb is known as a “late termination of pregnancy”.

When allowed by law, abortion in the developed world is one of the safest procedures in medicine. Modern methods use medication or surgery for abortions. The drug mifepristone in combination with prostaglandin appears to be as safe and effective as surgery during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Birth control, such as the pill or intrauterine devices, can be used immediately following abortion. When performed legally and safely, induced abortions do not increase the risk of long-term mental or physical problems. In contrast, unsafe abortions (those performed by unskilled individuals, with hazardous equipment, or in unsanitary facilities) cause 47,000 deaths and 5 million hospital admissions each year. The World Health Organization recommends safe and legal abortions be available to all women

Abortion in India

Abortion has been legal in India since 1971, when the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed. The law is quite liberal, as it aims to reduce illegal abortion and maternal mortality.

An abortion can be performed in India until the 20th week of pregnancy. The opinion of a second doctor is required if the pregnancy is past its 12th week.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was amended in 2002 and 2003 to allow doctors to provide mifepristone and misoprostol (also known as the “morning-after pill”) on prescription up until the seventh week of pregnancy.

An abortion is permitted in the following cases:

  • A woman has a serious disease and the pregnancy could endanger her life
  • A woman’s physical or mental health is endangered by the pregnancy
  • The foetus has a substantial risk of physical or mental handicap
  • A woman contracts rubella (German measles) during the first three months of pregnancy
  • Any of a woman’s previous children had congenital abnormalities
  • The foetus is suffering from RH disease
  • The foetus has been exposed to irradiation
  • The pregnancy is the result of rape
  • A woman’s socio-economic status may hamper a healthy pregnancy
  • A contraceptive device failed

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposed amendments to The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill in 2014. The proposed changes would allow healthcare providers to perform an abortion between 20 and 24 weeks under certain conditions.


  • If a woman is married, her own written consent is sufficient. Her husband’s consent is not required
  • If a woman is unmarried and over 18, she can provide her own written consent
  • If a woman is unmarried and under 18, she must provide written consent from her guardian
  • If a woman is mentally unstable, she must provide written consent from her guardian


Abortions can be performed in any medical institution that is licensed by the government to perform medically assisted terminations of pregnancy. Such institutions must display a certificate issued by the government.

Abortions must be performed by a doctor with one of the following qualifications:

  • A registered medical practitioner who has performed at least 25 medically assisted terminations of pregnancy
  • A surgeon who has six months’ experience in obstetrics and gynaecology
  • A person who has a diploma or degree in obstetrics and gynaecology
  • A doctor who was registered before the 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and who has three years’ experience in obstetrics and gynaecology
  • A doctor who registered after 1971 and has been practising in obstetrics and gynaecology for at least a year


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