People and Politics by Patrick Roberts
European Court rules Ireland must allow abortions in medical emergencies
Posted on Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 07:30 AM
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The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Ireland should introduce legislation to allow the right to abortion to women whose health is in danger from a continued pregnancy.
The court included the risk of suicide as one of its possible health complications.
The judgment is likely to force Ireland to pass a law allowing limited abortion right for women who are in danger of death from a medically complicated pregnancy or for women who are suicidal over a a rape pregnancy .
Irish authorities has refused to pass such a law despite a 1992 judgement from the Irish Supreme Court that abortion should be considered legal where a woman's life is in danger.
Thousands of Irish women currently travel to Britain for abortions including some who have medically dangerous conditions. .
The Strasbourg-based judges found that Ireland had erred in making the situation unclear for women who were told on medical advice that the abortion was necessary.
The court ruled in favor of one of three women from Ireland who took the case.
The woman concerned is a Lithuanian woman who was living in Ireland and battling cancer at the time of her pregnancy.
She wanted to terminate, doctors agreed but none would sanction the abortion.
She then traveled to England for the abortion.
The European Court found she should have received the abortion in Ireland as a matter of medical urgency.
The Irish Family Planning Association which took the case welcomed the verdict.
The issue first arose in 1992 with the famous X case when a 14-year-old girl was raped by a neighbor, became pregnant and sued the government to have an abortion in England. The government refused her the right to travel but she won her case.
Following that The Irish Supreme Court ruled that obtaining an abortion overseas was legal and Ireland should provide the facility where there was a clear medical emergency.
Ireland passed a law allowing citizens to travel abroad but refused to pass a law allowing the medical pregnancies to be terminated in Ireland.
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