Ireland Women Get European Court Hearing on Abortion Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 6, 2005

Strasbourg, France ( — Three women from Ireland who traveled to Britain to obtain abortions took their case to a top European court on Tuesday. They hope to overturn Ireland’s strong pro-life laws that prohibit abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger.

The women argue that Irish law restricts their right to privacy, information, and to end their undesired pregnancies. The court’s hearing Tuesday was set to determine if the test case of ‘D. v. Ireland’ is admissible and has enough merit.

One of the women in the case, known as D, is a 44 year-old woman who became pregnant with twins in 2001.

Tuesday’s court hearing at the European Court of Human Rights focused on amniocentesis tests the woman had in 2002. One unborn child had died at eight weeks into the pregnancy and the other had a chromosomal abnormality known as Trisomy 18 or Edward’s Syndrome.

After getting the tests, the woman decided to travel to the U.K. for an abortion. She argues she was unable to remain in England for post-abortion counseling about possible genetic disorders of future pregnancies and had to settle for some general statistical information.

She returned to Ireland and told doctors she had had a miscarriage.

She claims Ireland’s abortion laws prevented her from both having an abortion and knowing more about future pregnancies.

The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe that deals with issues of democracy and human rights. A decision on the case is not expected until 2006.

The women are receiving help from the pro-abortion Irish Family Planning Association, which announced a campaign in August to overturn Ireland’s abortion laws.

Pro-Life Campaign spokeswoman Audrey Dillon said IFPA and the lawsuit ignore the humanity of the unborn child and the damage abortion does to women.

"Every society has to confront the reality of crisis pregnancy," Dillon said. "The challenge is to create a more welcoming society for expectant mothers and their unborn children by providing positive alternatives to abortion."