Once again, the Irish people are being pressured by an external body to abandon legal protections for the unborn child.
This time, it’s the Council of Europe that has published a report calling for decriminalisation of abortion and the introduction of what it describes as a system that is “more respectful of the human rights of women.”
The report follows on from a visit by the Council’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, in November of last year when he examined how Ireland treats women, children and travellers. The report welcomed advances that Ireland has made in dealing with violence against women but nonetheless saw fit to advocate the loosening of Ireland’s abortion laws. The irony of this will not be lost on Irish pro-life campaigners, who are only too used to external organisations campaigning for an end to violence on the one hand, but the ending of vulnerable human lives through abortion on the other.
The Pro Life Campaign has said that the call for decriminalisation makes a mockery of the concept of international human rights. In a statement today, it noted that there was no place for a human rights commissioner like Mr. Muiznieks to make such a demand of Ireland, particularly when he has had nothing to say on the barbaric practice of abortion and how unborn babies are routinely left to die in corners after they survive botched abortions in countries where abortion is legal.
Comments such as those from Mr. Muiznieks and the Council of Europe must be set against their proper background, of course. We know that there is no ‘right to abortion’ in international human rights law. There is, however, a ‘right to life’ which is clearly set out in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This applies just as much to unborn children as it does to their mothers, fathers, born siblings, and other members of society.
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It is the duty of the Council of Europe and its commissioners to advance the positive and life-affirming principles of this Declaration, which highlight the importance and value of every human life instead of turning its back on speaking up for the right to life of unborn babies. Given that at a conservative estimate, there are 100,000 people alive in Ireland today thanks to the country’s pro-life laws, one might expect the Council of Europe to hold these laws up as an example to other countries where so many human lives are lost to abortion every year and where women suffer severe grief and trauma as a result. Unfortunately, it seems that in Ireland we will have to continue to put up with regular interference from groups overseas who ignore all the good things that the Eighth Amendment has done for our society.