Ireland urged to resist warped court decision on abortion

With the decision reached in the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B, and C case of three Irish women who challenged the constitutional protection for children before birth, there is a grave danger that the Houses of the Oireachtas will feel that they must change the law in Éire. John Smeaton of the Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) says that this would be wrong, and he is urging the people of Ireland to resist pressure from the ECHR to change.

The court rejected the legal arguments of the first two women, but said that the third woman’s right to a private life under article 8 of the European Convention had been violated by a failure of the Irish state to make her rights regarding abortion* accessible to her. The court claimed that the Irish Constitution gives women a right to abortion under the Constitution‘s protection of the equal right to life of the mother of an unborn child. The third woman was in remission from cancer at the time of the pregnancy and feared that the pregnancy would cause a relapse of her cancer.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said:

The court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution and confused abortion with healthcare. The Irish Constitution does not confer any right to abortion, nor can the right to life of unborn children in any way be held to be in competition with the right to life of their mothers. Abortion is not healthcare, and Ireland, where abortion is banned, has the world’s best record for maternal health. If implemented in law, this judgement would legalize abortion in a wide range of circumstances.

This case was never about helping women faced with a crisis pregnancy. It was instigated by the international abortion lobby, which has with the ultimate aim of forcing governments across the globe to recognise access to abortion as a legal right.

This warped decision lacks all legitimacy. It is vitally important that the people of Ireland continue to stand-up for the rights of unborn children who are the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. Abortion not only kills children: it is deeply damaging to women”, concluded Mr Smeaton.

Patrick Buckley, of European Life Network Ireland and of SPUC, said:

The court has failed to respect Ireland’s national sovereignty by unilaterally misinterpreting the Irish Constitution’s protection of the right to life. Ireland must dismiss out of hand this interference in a very sensitive national and constitutional issue. Europe is again deciding over the heads of the Irish people. We wonder what will be next tomorrow?

In protecting  the unborn from abortion Ireland is fulfilling its duty under international human rights law to protect the lives of its innocent citizens. In any case, the Irish Supreme Court has already ruled* that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases”, concluded Mr Buckley. * McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009 http://bit.ly/g5k35B

The right to life is the fundamental human right on which all other rights depend. Article 2 of the European Convention recognises the right to life of everyone, regardless of race, nationality, sex, age, birth or any other status. This is also recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No legally-binding international agreement has ever recognised access to abortion as a human right.

I hope that the Irish state will resist – and that the authorities responsible in Northern Ireland will also maintain the status quo. The NI Assembly has been clear on this issue. The right to life is paramount. Life begins at conception.

footnote

* Abortion (from the Latin word aboriri, “to perish”) may be briefly defined as “the loss of a fetal life. In it the fetus dies while yet within the generative organs of the mother, or it is ejected or extracted from them before it is viable; that is, before it is sufficiently developed to continue its life by itself. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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One thought on “Ireland urged to resist warped court decision on abortion

  1. From John Smeaton’s statement: The court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution and confused abortion with healthcare. The Irish Constitution does not confer any right to abortion, nor can the right to life of unborn children in any way be held to be in competition with the right to life of their mothers.

    I’m afraid he’s talking through his hat. The relevant section of the Constitution is Article 40.3.3, which states:

    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. (My bold.)

    This article was the subject of the famous case Attorney General v. X where the Supreme Court ruled by a 4-1 margin “that a woman had a right to an abortion under Article 40.3.3 if there was ‘a real and substantial risk’ to her life.” This right was held to exist if the woman was at risk of suicide, as X was.

    Three constitutional amendments were proposed in response to this ruling. The Twelfth Amendment proposed to write into the constitution that, while it would be lawful for an abortion to be carried out if there was “a real and substantial risk” to the life of the mother, risk of suicide would not be considered such a “real or substantial risk”.

    This amendment did not pass in the referendum that did pass the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments (the “right to travel” and “right to information” amendments). So the Supreme Court’s ruling on the meaning of Article 40.3.3 still stands in its entirety. So Mr Smeaton is wrong in his second assertion (“The Irish Constitution does not confer any right to abortion”). His third assertion (that a foetus can never endanger the mother’s life) is both at odds with the Supreme Court and with medical knowledge.

    The ECHR’s argument is that the Republic of Ireland has not implemented the 1992 Supreme Court ruling into legislation, so that a woman whose life is endangered by a pregnancy has no means of exercising her constitutional right. Given that the wording of the Constitution explicitly weighs the equal rights to life of foetus and mother against each other, the Supreme Court’s ruling is perfectly sensible. Anyone who wants to outlaw abortion completely should propose a constitutional amendment to do so rather than attack the ECHR for having the audacity to demand that the government fully implements its own Constitution.

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