Groups respond to abortion decision
Anti-abortion groups have criticised the Government’s intention to introduce legislation for abortion next year based on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the X case.
A combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case, a statement from the Department of Health said today.
The Government is expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the X case ruling.
Cora Sherlock of the Pro-Life Campaign said it was wrong to base any legislation on the X case, which “heard no medical evidence and contains no duty of care towards the baby”.
Such legislation would “introduce an abortion regime into this country in which the life of the baby could be directly and intentionally targeted for destruction,” she said.
Spokeswoman for the religious advocacy group the Iona Institute Maria Steen said it would be “wrong and unnecessary” to allow abortion in cases where there is deemed to be suicidal intent.
“Irish law already allows the ending of a pregnancy when there is no other choice and there is a clear threat to the life of the mother,” she said.
“A decision to include a threat of suicide as a ground for abortion would also be wrong in principle because it would authorise for the first time ever the deliberate and direct destruction of unborn human life in Ireland.”
Youth Defence spokeswoman Rebecca Roughneen said Fine Gael had broken the “pro-life promise” it made before the 2011 election, and had “bowed to the demands of the Labour Party and other pro-abortion advocates” rather than listening to their voters.
Pro-choice groups welcomed today's announcement, but said the government must commit to a timeframe for the introduction of legislation.
In a joint statement, Irish Choice Network, Choice Ireland, Action on X, Galway Pro-Choice, Cork Women's Right to Choose and Doctors for Choice said the proposed legislation “should only be considered a first step towards liberalising abortion laws in Ireland”.
Action on X spokeswoman Sinéad Kennedy said it was vital that there be no curtailment of a woman’s right to access abortion on grounds that she is suicidal in the new legislation.
“We are aware that there are moves from some TDs to have this rolled back, however this is a constitutional right confirmed by the Supreme Court decision in the X case and the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the ABC case,” she said.
Pro-choice groups have also called for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the unborn an equal right to life as the mother.
Choice Ireland spokeswoman Stephanie Lord said it was “inhumane” that the amendment has not been repealed before now.
“There are 4,500 women that travel overseas for abortion services every year, and many more that order pills online to induce abortions at home,” she said.
“Women have a right to make the best choice for them under their circumstances, and their right to health care must also be upheld. It is now time to introduce free, safe, and legal abortion on demand in Ireland."
Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Mark Kelly said the decision to legislate “sends a clear message that the Government is committed to honouring its legal obligations to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A, B and C”.
“There is no good reason why the Government should limit itself to the minimum action required to implement this one judgment,” he added.
“It should seize the opportunity to thoroughly overhaul Ireland’s antediluvian laws on abortion, including by rendering lawful the termination of pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities.”
The decision was also welcomed by the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who said legislation would be “the best way to protect women and health professionals”, and would allow for “the necessary flexibility to cater for future advances in obstetrics”.