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Citizens’ Assembly will not fulfill Government’s human rights obligations

By September 22, 2016News

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has informed the United Nations that the forthcoming Citizens’ Assembly to consider the Eighth Amendment is not a sufficient measure to bring Ireland’s abortion laws into compliance with human rights standards.

In a statement delivered to the UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, on 23rd September, the IFPA criticised the Government’s rejection of 16 of the 17 recommendations by fellow UN member states to Ireland to reform its restrictive abortion laws as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

Commenting on the Government’s response to the UN, IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said, “The Government has committed only to hold a Citizens’ Assembly. This is not sufficient to satisfy the State’s obligations under international human rights law. The Government’s rejection of recommendations for substantive reform of Ireland’s abortion laws is a considered disregard for its human rights obligations and a great disservice to women.”

Mr Behan continued, “Women in Ireland have the right to the highest possible standard of reproductive healthcare. International human rights law requires the State to fully protect the reproductive rights of women and girls in Ireland, including access to safe and legal abortion services.”

Notes:

  • Founded in 1969, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is Ireland’s leading pregnancy counselling provider, providing over 3,000 counselling services each year. The IFPA provides free and confidential pregnancy and post-abortion counselling, delivered by accredited and trained counsellors, at 11 locations nationwide. The IFPA also provides a comprehensive range of medical and education and training services.
  • During Ireland’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 11th May 2016, 15 states–Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, India, Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay—made a total of 17 recommendations regarding reform of Ireland’s abortion laws.
  • The United States, France and Canada also issued recommendations asking Ireland to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • The Government has rejected 16 of the 17 recommendations on abortion. Only the recommendation by Switzerland to “conduct consultations involving all stakeholders, including civil society organisations, in order to examine whether Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution could be revised and the legal framework related to abortion broadened” was accepted.
  • The IFPA was one of 10 civil society organisations to make an oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council session on 23rd September 2016 at which the report on Ireland’s second UPR was formally adopted.