Friday, October 7, 2011

Ireland's Universal Periodic Review

Ireland’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place yesterday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Ireland’s Justice Minister, Alan Shatter who represented the Irish Government was questioned on a wide range of issues including Ireland’s pro-life laws. The report of the UPR session will be adopted on Monday next and will be considered by the full council next March. 
In his presentation Minister Shatter told the UN UPR Working Group that the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B & C case found that there was an absence of effective procedures to establish a right to termination in Ireland and that as stated in the national report 

“Ireland is committed to expeditious implementation of the judgment and an expert group will be appointed in November, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.”

During the subsequent session Ireland’s, anti-abortion laws were questioned by delegates from the following countries, Holland, Germany, Slovenia, Norway, Spain and the UK, all of whom, called on Ireland to legislate for abortion. Denmark additionally called for abortion on demand.
Minister Shatter in response to the questions and recommendations on the abortion issue told the meeting that Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution guarantees both the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother and continued by saying that the issue therefore has a constitutional context. He the told the meeting that the Irish Supreme Court in the X case had decided that it was lawful to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland when it is necessary to preserve the life, as distinct from the health of the mother, and that the government would address the issue and meet their obligations. He also told the meeting that the Court in the A, B & C judgment had found that Irish law is in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. It was he said the lack of an identifiable procedure that a woman could avail of if her life was genuinely at risk, on which the European Court had ruled
Despite the demand of pro-abortion governments and pro-abortion groups such as  the IFPA Ireland is not obliged to legislate for abortion as a result the recent European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B & C case.
It is to be hoped that the expert group to be appointed in November will include pro-life legal and medical advice and will take into account the numerous peer reviewed studies, highlighting the negative consequences of abortion for women, rather than adopting a pro-abortion ideological stance, bearing in mind that Ireland has the lowest level of maternal mortality in the world. In fact Ireland has a much better record of safeguarding the lives of women in pregnancy than any of the countries that challenged the Irish laws on abortion.