The X-case in Ireland refers to an Irish Supreme Court case that established that Irish women are entitled to an abortion if their life is in danger, including in danger from the risk of suicide. The 1992 ruling caused decades of controversy and although the decision was handed down by the Court successive Irish Governments have never provided legislation to specifically detail how the judgment may be used.
Abortion is illegal in Ireland unless the life of the mother is in peril. For the last two decades it has been left to medical staff to make individual judgements on a case-by-case basis. The recent death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway hospital has brought this emotive issue to a head. Mrs. Halappanavar died after a complications due to a miscarriage and apparently after being refused an abortion to hasten that miscarriage. Her death prompted street rallies in Dublin and elsewhere.
A recent poll by the ‘Sunday Business Post’ newspaper has revealed that 85% of the Irish public now favours legislation in this area, allowing abortion where the mother’s life is in danger, including the risk of suicide. Some campaigners may hail this as a first step on the road to greater access to abortion in Ireland, while those opposed to abortion will likely attempt to block the legislation.
The issue will certainly cause real problems for the Irish Government that currently consists of two parties: Fine Gael and Labour. Several Fine Gael T.D.s (members of the Irish parliament) are much more conservative than their Labour Party colleagues and given the emotion attached to this issue it could potentially cause a real rift in the Government.