Warning Ireland could be in breach of convention
Ireland could fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights for denying abortion in cases of lethal foetal abnormality, the committee was told.
Dr Alan Brady of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said where it was clear the child would not survive some women might go to term and some might not. “I don’t think that is a decision to be made for those women. I have real concerns under article 3 that the Irish State seeking to make that decision for women who are faced with a clear medical diagnosis that the pregnancy is not viable that there is a real risk we will be found to be in breach of article 3.”
He said the European Convention on Human Rights was a “living document” and the court’s analysis “would suggest that denying abortion in cases of lethal foetal abnormality may be a violation”.
An argument could also be made that providing for abortion in cases of rape or incest might also be covered under article 3. Dr Brady added, however: “I don’t think it would be permissible under article 40.3.3 at the moment to provide for cases of rape or incest. I think that would require a constitutional amendment.” Phrases such as “floodgates” were “possibly unhelpful” because the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court “says that where a doctor is satisfied there is a real and substantial risk to life, and termination is required to avoid that risk, the woman is entitled to it. Now that’s the test, and we’re going to have to trust our doctors to apply the test in practice. The floodgates argument is something of a red herring.”