European Court Holds Hearing in Ireland Women’s Case to Overturn Abortion Law

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

European Court Holds Hearing in Ireland Women’s Case to Overturn Abortion Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 9
, 2009

Strasborg, France ( — A European court held a hearing on Tuesday in the case of three women from Ireland hoping to overturn the nation’s law prohibiting abortions. The women traveled from Ireland to Britain to obtain abortions and they said it is an inconvenience to have to do so.

The women hope the European Convention on Human Rights will overturn Ireland’s strong pro-life laws that prohibit abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger.

They say they were denied their rights because the Irish pro-life abortion law requires them to travel out of the country for an abortion.

The three women were represented in court were represented by lawyer Julie Kay, according to the London Times. She said they all experienced medical complications from the abortion following their return to Ireland after the abortions.

“The restriction stigmatized and humiliated them; risked damaging their health; and, in the third applicant’s case; even her life,” Kay claimed.

The Times said she added that, while the Irish Constitution gives mother and unborn child equal rights, “it is not known when life begins . . . philosophers, medical personnel and governments may differ on the question."

On the other hand, Paul Gallagher, the Irish Attorney-General, led the legal team seeking to defend the abortion ban in court and he said it was “based on profound moral values."

He said the nation’s pro-life laws for women and children had ben endorsed by three nationwide referendums and were protected in protocols attached to the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties.

The case, known as A, B and C versus Ireland and brought at the behest of the Irish Family Planning Association pro-abortion group, has been called the European version of Roe v. Wade by pro-life advocates on the continent.

"The IFPA is affiliated to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the largest abortion provider in the world. The Irish constitution protects the right to life of the unborn, and the case seeks to change this," John Smeaton, the head of the British pro-life group SPUC Pro-Life, told before the hearing.

"If it is successful, countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world will be affected. The effect could be similar to the Roe v Wade judgment in America, which struck down all restrictive laws on abortion in the United States by recognizing a right to abortion," he said today.

The Irish Constitution says, "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Smeaton says that the case essentially puts the Irish Constitution on trial and threatens the principles of democracy both in Ireland and for other countries.

"A decision by the court would result in all member-states of the Council of Europe being forced to review their laws. This would include Poland and Malta, both of which recognize the rights of the unborn from conception," he said.

The case was originally launched three years ago but the European court requested more information from the Irish government and the women involved.

The final decision of the court is binding and the European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe that deals with issues of democracy and human rights.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.