Thursday, December 16, 2010
European Court of Human Rights Rules Ireland's Abortion Ban Violates Irish Constitution
Irish Council for Civil Liberties press release: Abortion Rules in Ireland Disrespect the Constitution says Europe’s Top Court:
Washington DC / Dublin, Thursday 16 December 2010
Europe’s top court, the European Court of Human Rights, has today (16 December 2010) found that Ireland’s abortion regime fails to give women the Constitutional rights to which they are entitled.
In the case of a woman who had not been able to establish whether or not she qualified for a lawful abortion in Ireland, the Court found that Ireland failed to respect her private life in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The long-standing failure of the Irish authorities to give proper legislative effect to Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case, was condemned by the Strasbourg Court’s judgment in the case of A, B and C v Ireland.
In a lengthy and finely-balanced judgment, the Court found that the lack of effective and accessible procedures to establish a right to an abortion under Article 40.3.3, “has resulted in a striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland on grounds of a relevant risk to a woman’s life and the reality of its practical implementation”.
Speaking from Washington DC, where he is attending a global meeting of civil rights leaders, Mr Mark Kelly, Director of the ICCL said:
“Ireland’s failure to legislate to protect the rights of women has been clearly exposed by the European Court of Human Rights today. It is imperative that the Government legislate swiftly to ensure that women are able to exercise their existing Constitutional rights”.
“Yet again, it has required international intervention to remind our legislature of their domestic responsibilities. If Ireland wishes to reassert its sovereignty and its standing in the international community, it must start by fully respecting the human rights of people at home”, Mr Kelly added.
Mr Kelly also noted that the Strasbourg Court had used this judgment to highlight that there is an “undisputed consensus” amongst Council of Europe member States that abortion should be available on a broader basis than in Ireland.
He concluded that “Ireland is now among a tiny rump of Council of Europe States – with Andorra, Malta and San Marino – which apply such restrictive rules on abortion. Although the Court has found, on this occasion, that Ireland is entitled to maintain some restrictions on abortion, the writing is on the wall for the State’s restrictive abortion regime. A strong dissenting opinion by six Grand Chamber judges concluded that Irish law did not respect the private life of all three women (A, B and C) and paid particular attention to the very severe sanctions that can be imposed for abortions performed under what the judges called “archaic” laws in Ireland.”
The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights is available HERE.