* Outcry after Indian denied abortion dies in Irish hospital
* Deputy prime minister says 'deeply disturbed' by death
* Says government will urgently move to clarify rules
* Indian government says death a matter for concern
By Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, Nov 15 Ireland's government on Thursday
pledged to clarify its abortion laws after a woman, who was
denied a termination, died from septicaemia in an Irish
Thousands held a candle-lit vigil outside parliament on
Wednesday after news broke of the death of Savita Halappanavar,
an Indian Hindu, following a miscarriage 17 weeks into her
Activists in Ireland, an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic
country which has some of the world's most restrictive laws on
abortion, say a lack of legal clarity about when termination's
are justified may have contributed to her death.
"I was deeply disturbed yesterday by what Savita's husband
said. I don't think as a country we should allow a situation
where women's rights are put at risk in this way," Deputy Prime
Minister Eamon Gilmore told parliament on Thursday.
"There is no question of equivocation. We need to bring
legal clarity to this issue and that is what we are going to
do," he said.
Irish law does not specify under what circumstances the
threat to the life or health of the mother is high enough to
justify a termination, leaving doctors to decide.
After several challenges, the European Court of Human Rights
ruled in 2010 that Ireland must clarify its position.
The government has received recommendations from an expert
panel after a delay of several months and would report before
the end of the month, Gilmore said. Critics say the government
has been dragging its heels to avoid confronting the issue.
The fact that Halappanavar is a foreign national has
heightened the government's embarassment. The story was on the
front of several large Indian newspapers on Thursday.
The Indian government said on Thursday it deeply regretted
Halappanavar's death. "The death of an Indian national in such
circumstances is a matter of concern," a spokesman said.
Her death has dominated debate in Ireland's parliament since
news of it broke on Wednesday.
Her photograph was spread across the front pages of all
Ireland's major newspapers on Thursday, while editorials
demanded action from politicians, who have failed for decades to
clarify the law.
In 1992, when challenged in the "X-case" involving a
14-year-old rape victim, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion
was permitted when the woman's life was at risk, but an earlier
constitutional amendment banning abortion remains in place.
Despite a dramatic waning of the influence of the Catholic
Church, which dominated politics in the country until the 1980s,
successive governments have been loath to legislate on an issue
they fear could alienate conservative voters.