In a European report on women's health, Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws have been criticised

A EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER for Human Rights has released a report that criticises Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.

A report published today by Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks singled out Ireland as an example of a country with highly restrictive abortion laws which “can have a broad range of physical, psychological, financial and social impacts on women, with implications for their health and well-being”.

Over four fifths of all Council of Europe member states have legalised abortion on
a woman’s request, with 36 out of 40 of that total having a time limit ranging from 10 to 24 weeks.

The report namechecks eight regions in Europe where this isn’t the case: Andorra, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Poland and San Marino.

It says that they “all retain highly restrictive laws that forbid women’s access to abortion except in extremely limited circumstances”.

Andorra and Malta prohibit abortion in all situations. In Ireland, abortion is legal only to avert a substantial risk to a woman’s life and in San Marino life saving care is permitted as criminal law exception.

“In Northern Ireland, the sole exceptions are for risks to a woman’s life or health.”

It also criticised the fact that a woman who tries to access abortion in Ireland, through ordering a pill online, for example, could face up to 14 years in prison for doing so.

“Because of the legal consequences,” the report said, “women in these countries who resort to clandestine abortion are often afraid to seek post-abortion care if complications arise, with potentially severe consequences for their health.

“This fear is often well founded – in some of these jurisdictions women who have had illegal abortions, or family members who assisted them, have subsequently faced criminal prosecution and penalties.”

The report has been published days before the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment is due to make recommendations on whether to amend or remove it from the Irish constitution.

In April, the Citizens’ Assembly recommended that the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution be replaced or amended, not repealed. What the assembly recommended would represent a significant liberalisation of Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

Mellet v Ireland and Whelan v Ireland

The report highlighted two court cases taken against the Irish State by two women who had received a diagnoses of fatal foetal impairment from their doctors.

Following routine tests they were each informed that the foetus they were carrying would die in utero or would not survive long after birth.

On receiving this news, each woman found the prospect of continuing her pregnancy unbearable.

However, because Irish law prohibits abortion in all situations except when a pregnant woman’s life is at “real and substantial” risk, they were informed by their doctors that in Ireland carrying the pregnancy to term was their only option; to end the pregnancy, they would have to seek abortion care in another country.

Both women thus arranged to travel with their husbands at their own expense to hospitals in the United Kingdom, where they received abortion care.

They were not given any further information, advice or assistance from medical professionals in Ireland. In both cases, they had to leave the remains of their stillborn babies behind them for cremation and later received the ashes in the post.

When the women brought their cases to the Human Rights Convention, it ruled that suffering could have been avoided if the woman had not been prohibited from terminating her pregnancy in the familiar environment of their own country and under the care of health professionals whom they knew and trusted.

It recognised that Ireland’s laws compelled each woman to choose between continuing a non-viable pregnancy or travelling to another country at personal expense and separated from the support of her family and that this forced them to bear significant financial, psychological and physical burdens that intensified their suffering.

It found that “the shame and stigma associated with the criminalisation of abortion” exacerbated the women’s suffering.

Muižnieks said that the effects on women’s physical and mental health were often intensified for certain groups of women, including adolescents, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, women at risk of domestic violence, and women living in rural areas.

Symphysiotomy 

The report also mentioned Ireland’s compensation of women who underwent symphysiotomy procedures up until the 1980s.

A surgical procedure that involves dividing a pregnant woman’s pelvis to facilitate vaginal childbirth were carried out on around 1,500 women in Ireland without their informed consent.

But the report says that Ireland has “yet to investigate the practice in an impartial, independent and thorough way, including by hearing the testimony of the alleged victims, and ensuring that victims receive prompt and adequate redress”.

Read more news of Dublin on our site.

thejournal.ie
women'shealth Ireland’srestrictiveabortionlaws
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in september
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has said she hopes to bring a memo to Government "in the coming weeks"regarding the next steps to be taken at the site of the former Mother-and-Baby-Home in Tuam, CoGalway. Following a public consultation process earlier this year, a total of five different options are under consideration. These range from a full excavation of the burial ground, where "significant quantities of human remains"have be...
Society
The National Ploughing Championships resumed this morning in Tullamore after being closed to the public yesterday over damage caused by Storm Ali. Work wasongoing throughthe night to repair the damage to tents, exhibitions and other infrastructure on the site. The event openedto the public at9am. It will also be opened for an extra day tomorrow. Storm Ali brought gusts of almost 100km/h to the site of the National Ploughing Championships at Screggan outsid...
Society
The Department of Justice has confirmed to RTÉ's Morning Ireland that an estimated 20 people have been refused accommodation in Direct Provision centres over the past two weeks because they are at capacity. A number of asylum seekers have been left homeless as a result and at least one has been forced to sleep on the streets. The Department of Justice saidthe number of people arriving in Ireland applying for international protection has increased over the...
Society
Storm Ali has left many in north Dublin without water after taking out the ESB mains that pumps were running off. Five areas in North Dublin are without water today - although some of those outages were planned for maintenance work. Sutton, Castleknock, Balbriggan, and Garristown have all been affected. You can see the areas below. Water outage in Balbriggan, Wednesday 19th September 2018 due to ESB power outage to pumps at Balrothery - Water off until 6pm...
Society
Charlie Flanagan has vowed to probe how security firms carry out High Court Orders after the eviction of housing protesters. The Justice Minister also insisted balaclava-clad gardai policing last week’s incident in north inner city Dublin were only doing their jobs – and subjected to horrible abuse - writes dublinlive.ie. Mr Flanagan was speaking yesterday after criticism of officers wearing ski masks as they assisted a security firm removing protesters. H...
Society
The mystery of how many people attended the Papal Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park has finally been solved. The Office of Public Works revealed yesterday it was almost certainly just under 152,000 – more than 300,000 less than the 485,000 expected. The OPW had counting systems in place for health and safety reasons on day two of the visit last month. The OPW said its best estimate of how many came in this way was “in the order of 20,000”. After the visit on A...
Society
The Luas green line remains partially closed this morning after cable damage from Storm Ali. The ferocious storm caused serious disruption to travel across Dublin and is continuing to do so into Thursday morning. At the moment the green line Luas is operating from Brides Glen to Cowper and Dawson to Broombridge. However there is no service between Cowper and Dawson. Tickets are valid on Dublin Bus and services on the green line and reduced this morning. Co...
Society
Two children from the same family with the same diagnosis have had a very different experience of disability services, writes RTÉ’s Joan O’Sullivan. The Dollard family from Portlaoise in Co Laois, are veterans of children's disability services. Their son Ross, now 17, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was three years oldand autism when he was four. His parents, Martin and Sarah-Jayne, say he received excellent early intervention services that had an imme...
Society
Opposition TDs have criticised the Government in the Dáil following last month's news of the proposed closures of post offices around the country. The proposal follows a deal between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union , which sees 159 postmasters and postmistresses set to retire and their offices will close. An Post have said that all of the post offices scheduled to close are within a 15km radius of another post office. SinnFéin has tabled a motion...