Guidelines on legal abortion circulated

The Department of Health has drawn up the guidelines.

It has emerged that guidelines on the new abortion legislation have been circulated to a number of health professionals.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which allows for a termination where there is a substantial threat to the life of the mother, came into force last January.

The guidelines governing the legislation are expected to be published in the next day or two.

The procedures have been drawn up to guide clinicians, GPs, midwives, psychiatrists and obstetricians on how to act when there is a real threat to a pregnant woman's life.

"In the situation where there's a real physical emergency - the case that most people would remember would be that of Savita Halappanavar - in those cases, only one clinician has to certify," said Kitty Holland, a journalist with The Irish Times who has seen the documents.

"Where there's a physical risk to the woman's life in terms of something like, I suppose, cancer or other cardiac issues, two doctors have to certify that the woman is in need of a termination to save her life."

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