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In brief: Ireland enacts law permitting abortion

Wed., July 31, 2013

Dublin – Ireland’s first law authorizing abortion under certain conditions was signed into law Tuesday after a bruising debate in the predominantly Roman Catholic country over whether it risked opening the doors to abortion on demand.

President Michael D. Higgins’ office confirmed that he had signed the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, despite speculation that he might send the controversial measure to the Irish Supreme Court to examine its constitutionality.

Higgins’ signature came more than two weeks after a marathon session by lawmakers, who exhaustively discussed and parsed every word of the bill before approving it on a vote of 127-31. The lopsided tally belied the divisiveness of the debate over abortion in one of the last Western European nations to forbid widespread practice of it.

The new law does not permit women to terminate their pregnancies under any circumstance; rather it allows abortions only when two doctors certify that a mother’s life would be at “real and substantial risk” if she continues to carry the child. Only one physician’s authorization would be necessary in the event of an immediate emergency.

Doctors in Ireland already are vested with such powers, but many have hesitated to order even medically advisable abortions for fear of being hauled before the courts.

Militia vows fight after Kurdish death

Beirut – A powerful Kurdish militia said Tuesday it is mobilizing against al-Qaida-linked rebels in northeastern Syria after a Kurdish opposition leader was killed in the area.

The fight between the Kurds and the extremists has become a war within a war in Syria’s oil-rich region. Clashes between Kurdish gunmen and members of al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during the past weeks left dozens of gunmen dead from both sides.

The fighting claimed a prominent casualty Tuesday as a car bomb killed Kurdish leader Issa Hisso, said the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the most powerful faction of the ethnic group in the region.

“We condemn this ugly criminal act and we promise the martyr and his comrades that we will stand idle,” the party said in a statement.

Though no group claimed responsibility Tuesday for Hisso’s slaying, suspicion fell on the al-Qaida-linked organizations.


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