Ireland Abortion Legislation

“Abortion is generally illegal in Ireland, but the sticking point is that it is not always illegal. Since a 1992 supreme court ruling in the case of a teenage rape victim, there is actually a small category of cases in which one has a right to access a termination: where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of a pregnant woman from carrying a baby to term.

Yesterday, the European court of human rights handed down a judgment in the cases brought by three women, A, B & C v Ireland, that may compel the government into action.

The court’s decision does not really change Ireland’s current legal position: they didn’t find that the restriction of abortion violates the European convention on human rights. What the court did instead, when deciding in favour of Ms C, is to confirm that the failure to put in place a proper framework within which one’s right to an abortion can be exercised, violates the right to privacy. This means that as a matter of international law the Irish government is required to do something about abortion; what it will do is not yet clear.”

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