Oireachtas committee hearings on abortion close today

A legal expert who is due to speak this morning at the Oireachtas Health Committee hearing on the proposed new abortion legislation says the new laws should look more clearly at the definition of the unborn.

Dr. Ruth Fletcher, at the school of Law at Keele University in the UK says there is an opportunity for this new legislation to define the unborn so that it excludes those foetuses which have lethal abnormalities.

Currently the unborn is defined in law as starting from implantation.

Dr. Fletcher also says the new laws should take into account that the value of a woman's life is not the same as the value of the life of a foetus:

"One of the problems with the current interpretation of article 43.3 is that it treats a woman's life and a fetal life as if they are exactly the same thing" she said.

"So fetal life is an important entity obviously - but women's lives are valuable as biological entities, as sentiment beings, who can feel pain and pleasure and who have interests in well-being".

"And also as full persons who are conscious, who think, who reflect and make decisions" he added