Council of Europe Debates This Week on Call for Ireland to Legalize Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 13, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Council of Europe Debates This Week on Call for Ireland to Legalize Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 13
, 2008

Brussels, Belgium ( — The Council of Europe will debate a report this week a committee produced last month calling on member states that haven’t legalized abortion to do so immediately. The report targets Ireland, Andorra, Malta, and Poland and wants abortion promoted more fully in other nations.

The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe published the report last month.

The report calls on al 47 member countries to guarantee ‘‘women’s effective exercise of their right to abortion and to lift restrictions which hinder access to safe abortion."

Austrian socialist Gisela Wurm, a member of the committee, told the Dublin, Ireland Post, ‘‘Women must be allowed freedom of choice and offered the conditions of a free and enlightened choice."

Irish parliamentarians will debate the report and Terry Leyden of Fianna Fáil says he never expected he would have to defend Ireland’s pro-life laws at a continent level.

‘‘I never thought I would be landed in the middle of a committee calling for abortion in Ireland,” he told The Sunday Business Post.

Leyden said Irish lawmakers would work with those from Poland and Malta to propose amendments to reject the report, remove the abortion recommendation or scale it back in some other way.

MEP Kathy Sinnott talked about the situation with the Post newspaper and said the good news for Ireland is that the Council of Europe doesn’t have the same legal weight as the European Union.

‘‘The Council of Europe is not the EU and its resolutions do not have the force of law in Ireland that EU law does," she said.

Still, Sinnott said the report should be defeated because it adds to the pressure Ireland faces from the rest of Europe to allow abortions.

"Nonetheless, it is recognized as a moral authority in Europe and its deliberations can be used to pressure us in areas where we have taken an independent path," Sinnott said. ‘‘If this resolution passes, it will be more pressure on Ireland to change its abortion laws.”

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the EU took the front line in trying to introduce the term "sexual and reproductive rights" into a final policy document of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The effort was repelled by Ireland, Malta and Poland opposing the pro-abortion EU position. Effectively, these three countries, by breaking ranks with the consensus, prevented the insertion of pro-abortion language into the document.