London: More than two months after an Indian dentist died in Ireland after being refused termination of an unviable pregnancy, a committee set up by the Irish Parliament is set to hear submissions from medical and legal experts and religious leaders on drafting new abortion laws.
The Republic of Ireland`s stringent anti-abortion laws re-ignited protests and debate after 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway in October, 2012.
The family of the the dentist, who was 17 weeks pregnant, says her death was avoidable as she had asked for an abortion several times before she died.
Ireland`s Fine Gael-Labour coalition has said it would bring in legislation and regulation on the issue by the middle of this year.
It has set up an Oiraechtas or Parliamentary committee, chaired by the ruling centre-right party Fine Gael, to gather information to help the government draft the bill.
More than 40 witnesses, including medical and legal experts and religious leaders, will address the committee at the public sessions over the next three days, beginning from today.
Following the consultation, the government is expected to allow a pregnancy to be terminated where there is a risk to the life of a mother as distinct from a risk to her health.
The credible threat of suicide by a pregnant woman would also be considered grounds for an abortion.
The Church of Ireland remains strongly opposed to these moves and has planned meetings with government representatives over the next few weeks on the issue.
The country`s Catholic archbishops have claimed the new laws would "pave the way for the direct and intentional killing of unborn children."
In marked contrast in the UK, doctors are applying for a court order to allow them to carry out an abortion on a mentally disabled woman without her consent.
The woman, who is not being named for legal reasons, suffers from sickle cell disease which has already caused her to have a string of strokes.
The medical team treating her says they are concerned that allowing her pregnancy to continue any further could endanger her life.
The Court of Protection here has "life or death" powers over those judged to be incapable of making decisions about their health.