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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021

Restrictive Irish abortion law 'could be rejected by Europe'

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties says Ireland must provide “accessible procedures” to figure out if abortion is legal.

ICCL director Mark Kelly says involving too many doctors in an abortion decision could see Ireland in breach of European requirements.
ICCL director Mark Kelly says involving too many doctors in an abortion decision could see Ireland in breach of European requirements.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

PROPOSALS TO ASK pregnant suicidal women to be examined by six doctors before they can be put forward for an abortion could be a breach of Ireland’s responsibilities under European law, a civil liberties group has said.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties says an onerous model may not meet Ireland’s obligations to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) under the ruling in the A, B and C case – the ruling which prompted the current laws.

The Council of Europe, which monitors compliance with ECtHR rulings, has said Ireland has a legal obligation to respond to the ruling by implementing a “legislative or regulatory regime providing effective and accessible procedures whereby pregnant women can establish whether or not they are entitled to a lawful abortion”.

The civil liberties group says the mooted proposals, asking suicidal pregnant women to be assessed by six doctors, would fall foul of the requirements for an an ‘effective’ and ‘accessible’ procedure.

“Were the Government to propose such a legislative scheme, it is highly likely to be rejected by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, leaving Ireland in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights,” said ICCL director Mark Kelly.

The council said it has written to Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore outlining this advice.

This morning the Tánaiste refused to be drawn on whether the legislation would be passed before the summer recess, saying simply that the government’s desired timetable was widely known.

However, he is reported to have assured Labour members at the parliamentary party meeting yesterday that the legislation would be passed and enacted by the summer break.

There is still no agreement between the government parties on the exact makeup of a panel to determine whether an abortion can be permitted for a suicidal woman, however.

It is reported that many Fine Gael members, including junior minister Lucinda Creighton, expressed major reservations about the laws at their own parliamentary party meeting yesterday.

Enda Kenny this afternoon said the legislation would not change the law on abortion, but merely codify it so that the procedures were clearer.

Read: ‘Draconian’ abortion proposals are ‘completely unworkable’ – psychiatrists

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Gavan Reilly

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