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Council of Europe Pressures Member States to Legalize Abortion

The Council of Europe, a council dedicated to the legal protection of democracy and human rights, passed a resolution calling for all of its member states to legalize abortion. Agence France Presse reports that abortion is legal in most of the Council”s member states, but it is illegal or severely restricted in Andorra, Ireland, Malta, Monaco, and Poland. According to the Irish Family Planning Association, it is the first time a European Institution has written an official text calling for the de-criminalization of abortion.

The Council’s report states, “A ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions, but mainly leads to clandestine abortions, which are more traumatic and more dangerous. The lawfulness of abortion does not have an effect on a woman”s need for an abortion, but only on her access to a safe abortion.”

The Council’s decision is not legally binding but is a positive step for abortion rights activists. Irish Examiner reports that the Irish criminal code states women who have abortions can be jailed for life. Most Irish women seeking abortions engage in what the Council of Europe referred to as “abortion tourism,” meaning, those can afford it have the option to Britain where it is legal.

Sources:

Agence France Presse 04/16/08; Irish Examiner 04/17/08; Irish Independent 04/17/08; Irish Family Planning Association 04/16/08; Council of Europe 03/17/08

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