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Ireland is ready for changing its abortions laws

Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the ruling of the UN Human Rights Committee in the new case Whelan v. Ireland. The ruling finds that Ireland’s abortion laws have subjected a woman to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and violated her rights to privacy. The Committee ruled that “by criminalising and prohibiting abortion the state party discriminated against the author (Ms Whelan) because she is a woman.” This ruling follows last year’s similar ruling in the case Mellet v. Ireland.

Orla O’Connor, Director, NWCI said,

“Almost one year after the ground breaking UN ruling in the case Mellet v. Ireland, this second, similar ruling highlights again that our Government is still failing women in Ireland in a horrendous manner. Women are being subjected to what has been recognised as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and their rights to privacy and non-discrimination are being violated. We must act now to end this hypocrisy and ensure that a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment is being called as soon as possible.”

She continued,

“The Citizens' Assembly proved that when people are given the facts and space to consider the full implications of the Eighth Amendment, they come to a solution which prioritises women's health and well being. It is time for the Government and the Oireachtas to follow suit. The Oireachtas Committee must start its deliberations without delay and work towards recommending a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution for early 2018.”

She concluded,

“We commend the courage of Ms Whelan and her husband to proceed with the case and endure the process and publicity around it. Unless we act now, more women will have to come forward and seek justice in Geneva or Strasbourg. Women’s rights violations must end. We cannot continue to simply compensate women for their suffering. Ireland is ready for a change of its abortion law and it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that people have their say in a referendum.”
NWCI is the national representative group for women’s groups and organisations in Ireland. We have been mandated by our 180 groups’ strong membership to advocate for the introduction of free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland. NWCI has recommended to the Citizens Assembly to call for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment and for the introduction of legislation that would allow a woman to access abortion on request with no restrictions in early pregnancy and in certain circumstances thereafter. 

For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, NWCI, Tel. 085 861 9087 or sarahc@nwci.ie.