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Outside view of the European Court of Human Rights. Christian Lutz/AP/Press Association Images

Government's response to ECRH abortion ruling 'wholly inappropriate'

The government has been criticised by interest groups over its failure to propose “efficient measures” regarding abortion access in Ireland – despite a ruling by Europe’s top court compelling the state to address the issue.

IRELAND’S GOVERNMENT HAS come under fire for allegedly failing to properly address a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on the issue of abortion access in the state.

Last year the ECHR ruled in the case of A, B and C versus Ireland. It decided that the rights of woman C, who was unable to seek an abortion in the UK because she was undergoing chemotherapy at the time, were breached by the restrictions on abortions within the state.

This week, members of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers are meeting to discuss the government’s response.

“The European Court of Human Rights has stated categorically that there is a striking discordance between the theoretical right to an abortion in Ireland and the reality of its practical implementation,” said Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Mark Kelly.

He said that no efficient measures had yet been proposed to address the problem and, consequently, it was “probable that a woman in position of the victim in this case (woman C) would be treated in exactly the same manner today – in clear violation of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Kelly dismissed the government’s move to set up an expert group to discuss the matter as “evidence of inertia” and demanded that the authorities outline “the precise steps that will be taken to speedily implement this legally-binding judgment by Europe’s top court”.

Similarly, the Irish Family Planning Association accused the government of being equivocal in its response to the ECHR ruling, saying that plans to set up an expert group showed “a clear lack of leadership”.

“The establishment of an expert group is unnecessary and represents a considered avoidance by the State of its duty to execute the judgment,” said IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan. He added that the state had ignored the central concerns of the ECHR and that its response to the judgement was “wholly inappropriate”.

The government has until tomorrow (Friday) to present an action plan, outlining how it will implement the judgement, to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Read the IFPA’s submission to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers>

Read the ICCL’s submission to the Council of Europe’s Committee Members>

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