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The IFPA has said that there was an obligation on the Government to respond to the United Nations Committee on Economic and Social Rights in respect of Ireland’s abortion laws.

The Committee – which reported on 22nd June – expressed its concern at the restrictiveness of Ireland’s abortion laws and the impact of these laws on women. It has urged the Government to amend the legislation and Constitution to ensure that women have access to abortion in Ireland on wider grounds than only where there is risk to life.

According to Niall Behan, CEO of the IFPA, “The strength and clarity of the UN Committee’s report leaves absolutely no doubt that a realistic response is needed on abortion access in Ireland.  It is now incumbent on the Government to respond in a considered way to what the Committee has recommended to the State."

“The IFPA appeared before the UN Committee earlier in June and told the membership that in cases of conflict with the foetal right to life, doctors are prevented from making clinical decisions in the interests of a woman’s health. We highlighted the discriminatory impact of Ireland’s abortion laws: these burdens falls most heavily on minors, women on low incomes, and women who cannot travel freely to another state; these women disproportionately experience delays in accessing services.

“During its examination of Ireland, the UN Committee repeatedly asked about Article 40.3.3, or the Eighth Amendment, the constitutional provision the allows foetal right to life to ‘trump’ a woman’s right to health."

“It is clear to us now that the Committee listened carefully to our submission. The Committee's report and recommendations are unequivocal–the law is a barrier to women's enjoyment of the right to health and to the provision of the best possible healthcare services to pregnant women in Ireland, and the law must be changed." added Niall Behan.