Irish Women Challenge Abortion Ban

Three Irish women are challenging Ireland’s abortion ban in the European Court of Human Rights. Ireland has restrictive laws that prevent abortion in almost every circumstance except when a woman’s life is in jeopardy. The three women claim in their lawsuit, ABC v. Ireland, that their well-being and health was threatened by the strict ban. Their suit is the first direct challenge of Irish abortion law. Due to the stigma associated with abortion, the women have chosen to remain anonymous and are referred to as A, B, and C in court documents.

All three women traveled to England to have an abortion. Over 7,000 women yearly travel from Ireland to obtain legal and safe abortions, according to RH Reality Check. The Irish Family Planning Association, which represents the women, argue that the necessity to travel to obtain safe and legal abortion is direct discrimination based on sex and financial status. Other violations of the European Convention of Human Rights include right to privacy in all family, home and personal interest and their right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment.

A decision from the European Court of Human Rights in ABC v. Ireland is expected soon. In 2007, a similar case brought to the same Court by a Polish woman resulted in the court instructing Poland to change its abortion laws, according to the Irish Times. Historically, there has been strong opposition within largely Roman Catholic Ireland to legalizing abortion.


Reality Check 7/9/09; Irish Family Planning Association; Irish Times 4/21/09

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