The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Ireland’s laws banning abortion breach European human rights law because they do not make exceptions when the life of the mother is in danger :


In a landmark and binding case that could have implications for other European countries, the court ruled that Ireland had breached the human rights of a woman with a rare form of cancer who feared it would relapse when she became unintentionally pregnant.

However, the woman was unable to find a doctor willing to make a determination as to whether her life would be at risk if she continued her pregnancy to term.

In a landmark and binding case that could have implications for other European countries, the court ruled that Ireland had breached the human rights of a woman with a rare form of cancer who feared it would relapse when she became unintentionally pregnant.

However, the woman was unable to find a doctor willing to make a determination as to whether her life would be at risk if she continued her pregnancy to term.


The decision is more encouraging than it might first appear. The court ruled that in the cases of two other women who both obtained abortions abroad that while Ireland’s restrictions on abortion interfered with their right to have their private lives respected, the interference was justified because of the “legitimate aim of protecting public morals as understood in Ireland.” It also reiterated that individual countries have a right to set their own abortion laws.

The problem with the abortion law in Ireland, according to the court, was that while it allowed an exception where there is a “real and substantial risk” to the life of the mother, the Irish government makes it impossible for women to get medical advice or to obtain abortions in such cases. Because doctors and patients run the risk of “serious criminal conviction and imprisonment” if a doctor so much as concludes that abortion is an option because the mother’s health is at risk from pregnancy, it makes the exemption untenable.

The Irish government will likely enact legislation setting out how and in what circumstances women with life-threatening conditions can obtain abortions.

What is most interesting about the decision is that it mainly involves an intramural debate in the antiabortion camp: Are legitimate threats to the life of the mother a valid reason to allow for an abortion?

So the question of the day for my fellow pro-lifers is, “Did the European Court of Human Rights make the right decision in ruling that the life of the mother must be taken into consideration?”

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