The Irish government plans to legalize abortion in limited circumstances, but Minister for Health James Reilly insisted his plans will take “full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.”
The disclosure contradicts a 2011 campaign promise by Prime Minister Enda Kenny that his government would not introduce abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.
In practice, abortion has been illegal in Ireland under 1861 legislation. However, a 1992 Supreme Court judgment -- known as the X case -- found that there is a constitutional right to abortion where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide, up to birth.
Successive governments have not acted on the issue. However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that Ireland must clarify when women can access abortion under the 1992 ruling. Pro-lifers are calling for a mass rally Jan. 19 to express opposition to legislation.