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Tuesday, 13th June 2017

Irish Family Planning Association welcomes finding of UN Human Rights Committee in Whelan v Ireland case


The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has today (13.06.17) welcomed a ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee which states that Ireland’s abortion laws subject pregnant women to cruel and inhuman treatment.


The Human Rights Committee found that Ireland’s criminalisation and prohibition of abortion, violated Siobhán Whelan’s rights under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, after she was denied access to abortion services in Ireland, following a diagnosis in 2010 of a fatal foetal impairment.


Commenting on the decision, IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said: “The UN Human Rights Committee has told Ireland that the abortion laws must be reformed. In doing so it echoes what the IFPA hears from our clients every day. The State’s abandonment of pregnant women, forcing them to seek care outside Ireland, is cruel and inhumane. It harms women’s health and well-being and is a form of reproductive coercion.”


He added: “The State cannot continue to ignore repeated rulings and recommendations of international human rights bodies. Irish law must be reformed to comply with our international human rights requirements, and the harm to women’s health and wellbeing caused by the denial of abortion services must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”


The Committee has directed the Government to take steps to redress the serious harm Ms Whelan suffered and to enable law reform to ensure it does not reoccur.


Mr Behan also said: “The Citizens’ Assembly has given the Government a clear imperative to reform the law. It is time to prioritise women’s health and wellbeing, as well as their rights to dignity and autonomy, over political considerations, including the provision of care women are currently denied in Ireland.”




Contact: Sarah Maloney, IFPA Communications Assistant, Tel: 01-6074456 / 086-7952167, Email:


Notes to Editors:

On 12th June 2017, the UN Human Rights Committee in the case of Whelan v Ireland ruled in favour of Siobhán Whelan, who was denied access to abortion services in Ireland after she received a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality and was forced to travel outside of Ireland in order to access abortion services.


About the Irish Family Planning Association

Founded in 1969, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is Ireland’s leading pregnancy counselling agency, providing over 50% of all pregnancy counselling services funded by the Irish State. The IFPA provides free and confidential pregnancy and post-abortion counselling, delivered by accredited and trained counsellors, at eleven locations nationwide. It is the only national pregnancy counselling service that provides information on abortion, parenting and adoption. The IFPA also provides a comprehensive range of medical, education and training services on a not-for-profit basis. The IFPA National Pregnancy Helpline is 1890 49 50 51.


Statistics on women from Ireland who access abortion in the UK

  • Figures published today (13.06.17) show that in 2016, 3,265 women and girls provided Republic of Ireland addresses at abortion clinics throughout England and Wales, with 48% aged between 20 – 29 and 37% were between 30 – 39 years old.
  • Women from Ireland tend to access abortion later than those living in the UK, with 69% of women from the Republic of Ireland doing so between three and nine weeks gestation. The figure for women resident in England and Wales is 81%.
  • Women from the Republic of Ireland constituted the majority (67.9%) of non-UK residents who accessed abortion services in England and Wales in 2016.
  • The 2016 statistics released today by the UK Department of Health are available here.
  • A summary of statistics released by the UK Department of Health between 1980 and 2016 is available here.
  • The figure of 3,265 is an underestimate: not everyone has the means to access UK abortion clinics: some women access services in countries such as the Netherlands. Increasing numbers of women are accessing the abortion pill online and other women ultimately have no choice but to continue pregnancies against their wishes.