The Irish Examiner 22 April, 2009
AN expert on abortion law has said it is an "appalling situation" when three women have to ask the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to resolve the "abortion question" because the Dáil has refused to.
University of Limerick law lecturer, Jennifer Schweppe was speaking after details emerged about the Irish Government’s defence in the face of a legal challenge by three women who claim their human rights were infringed by having to travel for abortions.
A formal ECHR hearing on the admissibility of the case is expected to take place shortly. The women, referred to as Miss A, Miss B and Miss C, say their health was jeopardised by the forced travel and that they were put under emotional, financial and physical burdens with damage to their "family and private lives".
The Irish Government is fighting the case on the grounds that domestic legal remedies have not been exhausted and that there is not a lack of post-termination care in this country. It also says the ECHR does not allow a limited right to abortion and that this would be "inconceivable".
Ms Schweppe said she believes the Miss B and Miss C cases are stronger than the Miss A case, on the grounds that these two cases display a "greater potential threat to the life/ health of the mother".
"The plight of the three women… are case studies on how flawed the law on the ‘right to life of the unborn’, abortion law and reproductive rights is in this country.
"The constitution mandates the Oireachtas to introduce laws to regulate how the competing right to life of the unborn and the mother are to be reconciled: they have abjectly failed in their constitutional duty in this regard," Ms Schweppe said.