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Ireland’s Prime Minister Receives Threats After Considering Legislation to Ease Abortion Ban

As Ireland begins to consider loosening the country’s strict abortion ban, the prime minister, Enda Kenny, says he received letters from anti-abortion activists calling him a murderer — with some of the letter inscribed in blood.

“I’m now being branded by personnel around the country as being a murderer, that I am going to have on my soul on the death of 20 million babies,” Kenny said this Wednesday. The Irish prime minister went on to say that he’s even received threatening messages, such as “scapulars, plastic fetuses, letters written in blood, telephone calls over the system,” also explaining that the threats have been made to members of his staff as well.

In the wake of international outrage after the death of Savita Halpannavar, the Indian woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital, Kenny approved legislation that would make exceptions for abortion services if a woman’s life is in danger. Even if the law is eventually amended, it still doesn’t include exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal defects that are fatal.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have pressured the government to block the legislation, arguing that exceptions for the life of the mother are “not necessary to protect women.”

Amazingly, Ireland’s powerful Catholic hierarchy stand in sharp contrast to public opinion. According to a recent poll, 89 percent of Ireland’s population want legal abortion care to be available in cases the life of the mother is at stake. The poll showed an 81 to 78 percent-approval rate for abortion services to be legal in slightly less-dire circumstances.

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