Three months remain until the Republic of Ireland must issue a substantive plan for how it intends to deal with abortion, in accordance with a 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling. The plan is due only weeks after a panel of experts appointed by the government to assess the issue will report back with their recommendations.
The 2010 court ruling found that although abortion is not necessarily a right, Ireland violates women’s rights through its confusing and unclear procedure for determining if a woman qualifies for an abortion.
According to the ruling, the government must clarify abortion’s legal status and submit an “action plan” for doing so to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at the end of October.
At present, abortion is constitutionally legal in Ireland if the mother’s life is threatened, but performing an abortion is considered medical malpractice.
As the deadline approaches, political parties are delicately staking out their turf on the issue. Fine Gael TDs have said they will not support any legalisation of abortion with their votes, the Independent reported.
The Labour party, which has previously stated that it will support legislation allowing abortion in some cases, is “fairly certain” the expert panel will find in their favor, Labour junior minister Kathleen Lynch said on RTÉ Radio.
Lynch also pointed out that the expert panel will have been a complete waste if the government does not act in accordance with its findings—a convenient observation given the Labour party’s expectation that the panel will agree with them.
Fine Gael Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald attempted to draw predictions back into the center with her response to reporters Monday.
“I think it’s important to wait and see what those recommendations are and Cabinet will consider those recommendations when we receive them,” she said. “The recommendations would cover a wide variety of actions.”
Tánaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore also took the ‘wait-and-see’ approach in his statements to reporters, the Irish Examiner reports.