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UN criticisms of Ireland’s abortion laws triple

By May 11, 2016News

The IFPA has called on the Government to clarify how it intends to bring Ireland’s abortion laws into compliance with human rights standards. The call follows renewed criticism of Ireland’s abortion laws by UN member states during an examination of Ireland’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 11th May.

During the high-level human rights review before the UN Human Rights Council, eighteen UN member states criticised Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws – triple the number of criticisms since Ireland’s last UPR review in 2011 – and urged the Government to fulfill its international human rights obligations by reforming its abortion laws.

Responding to the calls, IFPA Chief Executive, Niall Behan said, “Ireland’s abortion laws are incompatible with women’s human rights. The stark criticism by UN member states is no surprise and echoes what the IFPA hears every day from clients of our counselling services: Ireland’s abortion laws are harming women’s health.”

Mr Behan continued, “Our clients need access to the highest level of reproductive healthcare in Ireland, including abortion services. Minister Fitzgerald told the UN that the Government is committed to a citizens’ assembly to address this issue. It is imperative that this citizens’ assembly leads to reform of Ireland’s abortion laws so that they comply with international human rights standards in law and in practice.”

Notes to the editor

  • 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.
  • The following UN treaty monitoring bodies have criticised Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws: the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2016), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2015), the Human Rights Committee (2014, 2008, 2000), the Committee Against Torture (2011) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2005, 1999).
  • Ireland’s abortion laws have also been criticised by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders (2012), the European Court of Human Rights (2010 – A, B and C v Ireland) and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner (2008).
  • The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established in 2006 to assess how individual UN member states respect their human rights commitments. The high level peer review process sees each of the 193 UN member states voluntarily submit for a review of their human rights record every four and a half years.
  • During Ireland’s second UPR review on 11th May 2016, the following eighteen UN member states criticised Ireland’s abortion laws and called for reform: India, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, United States, Sweden, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, France, Canada and Switzerland.
  • Ireland’s first UPR review took place in 2011, during which it received six recommendations (from Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom and the Netherlands) in relation to its abortion laws. Notwithstanding the 2010 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in A, B and C v Ireland that the State must give legal effect to the limited constitutional right to abortion, all were rejected.
  • The IFPA is a member of Your Rights Right Now, a coalition of seventeen civil society organisations formed in advance of Ireland's first UPR and co-ordinated by the ICCL.

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