European Human Rights Court Rules Against Ireland Women in Abortion Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

European Human Rights Court Rules Against Ireland Women in Abortion Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 7, 2006

Strasbourg, France ( — Abortion advocates in Ireland have lost a case they took to the European Court of Human Rights, a part of the Council of Europe that deals with issues of democracy and human rights. They wanted the court to declare invalid article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution, which equates the life of the unborn to that of the pregnant woman.

The court, in a ruling handed down this week, declared the lawsuit inadmissible on the grounds that the abortion advocates should have taken the case to Irish courts first.

The case involves three women who went to Britain from Ireland to get abortions. The women argue that Irish law, which prohibits abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger, restricts their right to privacy, information, and to end their undesired pregnancies.

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

A September 2005 hearing 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 "concluded that the applicant did not comply with the requirement to exhaust domestic remedies as regards the availability of abortion in Ireland in the case of fatal fetal abnormality," it said in a statement about the case.

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."

Polls show citizens of Ireland don’t want legalized abortion.

A September Irish Examiner/Lansdowne survey reveals that 47 percent would vote against a referendum legalizing abortion while just 36 percent would vote for it.