ABC v Ireland (European Court of Human Rights)

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Today the European Court of Human Rights (not an EU body!) handed down its judgement on the case of ABC v Ireland on the issue of provision of Abortion in Ireland.

As kind of expected the court declared A and B inadmissible as

the existing prohibition on abortion in Ireland struck a fair balance between the right of the first and second applicants to respect of their private lives and the rights invoked on behalf of the unborn.

They also stated that

prohibition in Ireland on abortion for health or well-being reasons was based on the profound moral values of the Irish people in respect of the right to life of the unborn

So the court did take this into account.

The difference in the case of C was that the life of the mother was under threat due to the cancer she was suffering from. As the Irish Constitution allows an abortion in this case, the court ruled

that neither the medical consultation nor litigation options, relied on by the Irish Government, constituted effective and accessible procedures which allowed the third applicant to establish her right to a lawful abortion in Ireland. Moreover, there was no explanation why the existing constitutional right had not been implemented to date.

This is an issue that has been dodged by successive governments since the eight amendment was passed. This will now force the Goverment to amend the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which has had the “chilling” effect on any sort of abortion service in Ireland.

It is interesting as well to see the groups who intervened in this case.

  • the Lithuanian Government (one of the applicants being Lithuanian);
  • the European Centre for Law and Justice in association with Kathy Sinnott (Member of the European Parliament);
  • the Family Research Council (Washington D.C.)
  • Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (London); the
  • Pro-Life Campaign;
  • Doctors for Choice (Ireland)
  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service;
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme.

This case has been welcomed by Pro-Choice activist and condemned by Pro-Life activists, which is strange considering all the judgement is doing is telling us to enact our own constitution!

So will we finally get our abortion act?

Full Judgement and ECHR Press Release (PDF’s)

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The Elephant in the Room

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There is a very large elephant in the room in Irish politics. It is a very important issue and it cause fierce tensions and divides, but not only in Ireland.

I blogged a few years back that Ireland needs an Abortion Act and recent events are making that point more necessary!

The recent poll in the Irish Examiner showing that “60% of young people want abortion legalised here” shows that young people do care about this issue.

Todays report by Human Right’s Watch, A State of Isolation, which calls on the Government to decriminalise “all abortion for women living in Ireland” (Full list of recommendations)

Abortion is a polarising issue in Ireland. At the moment it is unresolved. Ireland has two choices. We can amend the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 to take account of the constitutional rights. Or we have a new referendum on Abortion and try and introduce the freedom to have an Abortion.

(The right to an abortion is something I am not sure of, so I refrain from using that terminology)

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