Friday, September 16, 2011

Ireland:State response to European court abortion ruling

The setting up of an expert group to address the implications of an European court ruling on a woman’s right to an abortion in Ireland when her life is at risk is a “wholly inappropriate” response, according to the Irish Family Planning Association.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that the State had violated the human rights of a woman – known as C – because there was no “effective or accessible procedure” open to her to establish her right to a lawful abortion in Ireland. Members of the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers from 47 member states are meeting this week to examine the Government’s measures to implement the court’s ruling. All court judgments are binding on the member state. The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) said yesterday the Government’s plan to set up an expert group ignored the central concerns of the court. “The court has already criticised the State for failing to act on recommendations of the three previous government committees that have already considered Ireland’s regulation of abortion,” chief executive of the association Niall Behan said. “The IFPA hopes that the committee of Ministers will . . . request a revised action plan with a concrete commitment to enact legislation to implement the ruling of the court and give legal clarity to women and their doctors on the circumstances in which abortion is lawfully available within the State,” he added. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties also criticised as inadequate plans to establish an expert group which would make recommendations to the Government. In a formal submission to the meeting, it pointed to what it said were shortcomings in the scope, extent and efficiency of the Government’s proposals. Its director Mark Kelly said: “We trust that the committee of Ministers will require the Irish authorities to submit a revised action plan, clearly indicating the precise steps that will be taken to speedily implement this legally binding judgment by Europe’s top court.”

In a case brought in 2009, three women – A, B and C – held that they were subject to indignity, stigmatisation and ill-health as a result of being forced to travel abroad for abortions. The court found the State had violated the rights of C, who had a rare form of cancer and who was forced to travel abroad for an abortion after she became pregnant unintentionally.

 Source: Irish Times, 16 September 2011

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