The government of Ireland has a message for the United Nations Human Rights Council: We’re not interested in legalizing abortion. Today, the council published its draft report on Ireland’s human rights record as part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review.
The report included recommendations from six countries for Ireland to bring in abortion and, while the Irish government accepted many of the recommendations in the report, it rejected all the calls relating to abortion. The countries that pressured Ireland to introduce abortion were Holland, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Norway and Spain.
Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, representing the Irish Government at last week’s UPR public session in Geneva, was questioned on a wide range of human rights related issues. Some 60 stakeholders and NGOs made submissions to the Universal Periodic Review involving Ireland.
The Pro Life Campaign, as an accredited NGO of the United Nations, was represented in Geneva by Caroline Simons, legal consultant to the campaign. Responding to the decision to reject abortion, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign told LifeNews that her group “welcomes the decision of the Government not to support recommendations from a number of countries for Ireland to introduce abortion.”
“These calls for abortion legislation fly in the face of the UN’s own recent research showing that Ireland, without abortion, is a world leader in terms of safety for women in pregnancy,” she said.
Cullen added: “Maternal safety in Ireland, it should be noted, is better than in the six countries pressurising Ireland to introduce abortion. The legal reality is that the recent European Court of Human Rights decision in A, B and C v. Ireland does not oblige Ireland to introduce abortion.”
While Ireland rejected the calls from other nations to introduce legislation implementing last year’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A, B and C versus Ireland, it committed to “expeditious implementation” of the European Court of Human Rights ruling and said it would appoint an expert group “with a view to making recommendations to government on how this matter should be best addressed.”
Ireland also turned back a request from Slovenia to okay abortion in cases “when pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the pregnant woman,” according to the Journal newspaper.
Article 40.3.3 of Ireland’s constitution reads, “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.”
Before the decision, Marie Smith, Director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), encouraged Ireland to reject pressure form the UN and other nations to legalize abortion.
“Hopefully the Irish government recognizes its sovereign right to determine its laws on abortion and maintains its constitutional protection for unborn children which results in Ireland-with the world’s lowest maternal mortality rate-being the safest place in the world for women to give birth,” she said.
A December 2010 judgment from the European Court of Human Rights does not require Ireland to introduce legislation authorizing abortion.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously reaffirmed that the European Convention on Human Rights contains no “right” to abortion. That’s the good news for the pro-life movement, but the court also unanimously ruled in favor of one of the three women who brought a lawsuit saying the Ireland abortion ban violates their rights.
The Irish Government robustly defended Ireland’s ban on abortion before the court and said Ireland’s abortion laws were based on “profound moral values deeply embedded in Irish society.”