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Justice Minister Alan Shatter Photo by: PA

Irish government rejects UN findings in abortion rights

\"Justice

Justice Minister Alan Shatter Photo by: PA

The Irish Government has rejected six recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council to legalize or partially legalize abortion, according to the Irish Times.

Out of a total of 126 recommendations, the Government accepted 62 and claimed that they would “study carefully” 49 more before the next Human Rights council session in March, 2012.

These recommendations to Ireland were "based on the first review of Ireland’s record under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, a process that culminated in a hearing involving Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in Geneva last week," the article reported.

These 49 recommendations addressed controversial issues such as conditions in prisons, gender equality, mental health, torture prevention, and children's rights.

Just under half of the 15 recommendations the Government rejected were on the topic of abortion. These included a plea from Slovenia to allow for abortion "at least when pregnancy poses a risk to the health of the pregnant woman" and for the country to implement the judgement made by the European Court of Human Rights on the A, B, and C v Ireland case.

The current law in Ireland regarding abortion holds that abortion is illegal, except where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide. In those cases, abortion may be legal, but this rule is only applied after the 28th week of pregnancy. However, the 2010 landmark decision that held that Ireland had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which confirms the right for respect with regard to one's privacy, without any interference by a public authority figure. The decision held that, although abortion is illegal in Ireland, it was uncertain whether or not the third participant, C, could have had access to an abortion if she feared her life was in danger; that is, there was no information available to her at the time where she could simply learn her rights in such a situation.

Justice Shatter reported that an "expert group" was to be appointed by the Government next month in order to implement the ruling in the historical civil rights case in an "adequate and comprehensive" way.
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David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute which “promotes the place of marriage and religion in society,” also commented on the public requests to legalize abortion. He claimed that the UN’s abortion recommendations represented the group’s “ideological bias” and holds that nothing the country signed requires that they legalize abortion or “weaken the right of religious organizations to hire staff who will reflect their ethos.”

Although abortion rights were quite a controversial issue, a total of 15 states in the session revealed their concern with the state of prison conditions, including violence, sanitation, and overcrowding. The Irish Government accepted all of these recommendations, although the Irish Penal Reform Trust reported that such reforms needed to be performed on strict and specific schedules.

Mark Kelly, the director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, noted that the Government had thus far accepted 90% of the recommendations, a "remarkably high" rate and a "testament to the seriousness with which the Universal Periodic Review process has been taken by Government and civil society."

According to the article, Amnesty International also noted that, in addition the accepted recommendations, the Government had also pledge to consider recommendations on same-sex marriage and signing the new Council of Europe convention regarding violence against women.

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