Grégor Puppinck, PhD

The Council of Europe is imposing abortion on Ireland, Poland

Grégor Puppinck, PhD
By Grégor Puppinck
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WARSAW, December 13, 2012, (C-FAM.org)—In Europe, Ireland is a symbol of resistance against abortion.  Nevertheless, Ireland is on the point of giving in to the concerted pressure of the Council of Europe and the pro-abortion lobbies.

The Irish people have always been firmly opposed to abortion. Since the 1980s, they have rejected the legalization of abortion three times, while affording equal constitutional protection to the life of the unborn child and that of the mother. Abortion is therefore always prohibited, except when doctors consider it necessary to save the life of the mother.

However, the Council of Europe is at the heart of a campaign aiming to impose abortion from the top onto people who refused it from the bottom three times, by referenda in 1983, 1992 and 2002.

It is to be noted that the Council of Europe was created to defend democracy and human rights. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe.  Its role is to ensure the observance, by member states, of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.  States should abide by the judgments decided against them by the Court.  States are free to choose the most appropriate means to put right the violation found by the Court; and they are not required to adopt the various means possibly suggested by the Court in its judgments.  This execution of judgments is placed under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers, namely the ambassadors of the 47 Member States.

On December 16, 2010, in the A., B. and C. v. Ireland case, whereas there is no right to abortion under the Convention, the Court condemned Ireland, considering that its legislation on abortion is not clear, as it did not allow a pregnant woman, who wanted to have an abortion, to know whether she qualified for an abortion according to the exception (to save the life of the mother).  That woman, having previously suffered from cancer, feared that the pregnancy would adversely affect her health.  Thinking that she would not be granted the medical permission for an abortion, she travelled toEnglandwhere she underwent an abortion.

The A., B. and C. v. Ireland and the Tysiac v.Poland of March 20, 2007, (no 5410/03) cases are the landmark abortion cases against Ireland and Poland, respectively. 

In these cases, the women complained about their inability to have an abortion particularly due to the refusal of the doctors. The two cases result from the clash between two approaches on this issue:  one, the women who demand abortion as if it were an individual right and, two, the doctors and the State who submit abortion to objective criteria, especially related to the life and the health of the mother.

In these two cases, the Court tried to favor greatly the expression and the freedom of the women, without directly confronting the State’s right to submit abortion to strict conditions.  To that end, the Court stated that if the State decides to authorize abortion, even exceptionally, it should create a coherent legal framework and a procedure allowing women to establish effectively their “right” to abortion. 

Thus, abortion is not imposed directly on Ireland and Poland, but by the peripheral way of the procedural obligations which guarantee not a substantial right to abortion, but a procedural right of knowing whether one fulfills the right to access to an abortion. 

This procedural approach obliges Ireland only to “clarify” the concrete conditions of access to abortion; in actual practice, however, it goes far beyond that obligation.  This result is achieved while recognizing the absence of a right to abortion under the European Convention on Human Rights, and without its being necessary for the Court to comment on the prohibition in principle of abortion in Irish law.  In order to impose this procedural obligation, it suffices to affirm, starting from an exception from the prohibition on the ground of danger to the life of the mother, that there is a “right” to abortion and that this “right” falls within the scope of the Convention.

In order to execute the judgments as the Court recommends (a recommendation which is not compulsory), Ireland[1] and Poland will institute a decision-making mechanism to which women wishing to have an abortion will address their demands. 

Ireland will probably follow the example of Poland, which in order to carry out the Tysiac v. Poland judgment established a “committee of experts” in charge of deciding on a case by case basis whether the conditions of access to an abortion are fulfilled. This committee will necessarily interpret and change those conditions.  The composition of this committee is decisive and is debated within the Council of Europe: the pro-abortion lobbies[2] would like to reduce the number of doctors on such committees in favour of other professions and categories (lawyers, representatives of NGOs, etc). 

This request was backed by the UN Special Rapporteur for the right to health, who affirms that “a commission composed exclusively of health professionals presents a structural flaw which is detrimental to its impartiality.”[3]  This issue is important, as doctors have a scientific, objective and concrete approach to the causes justifying a possible abortion.  By contrast, lawyers and political organizations view abortion under the abstract angle of individual freedoms. 

What is at stake in the debate on the composition of those committees is the definition of the nature of abortion; on one side it is considered from a concrete and medical point of view and, on the other side, from an abstract point of view and as an individual freedom.  If abortion is a freedom, its exercise inevitably clashes with the doctors’ assessment which is perceived as an illegitimate interference.  This confrontation is stronger when the doctors invoke their freedom of conscience to refuse to carry out an abortion.

Moreover, entrusting a committee with a decision to authorize an abortion makes this decision collective, dissolving the moral and legal responsibility of the decision into the entire committee.

The decisions of this committee should be timely, reasoned and in writing, to be challenged in the court system.  Thus, the final decision to authorize abortion will belong no longer to the doctors or the ‘committee of experts’, but to the judge who will ultimately interpret the criteria for access to abortion.  At present, no procedure has been proposed to challenge in the courts a decision authorizing abortion   In practice, only a decision of refusal can go before the courts. 

Will the unborn child have a lawyer to represent and defend him/her in this committee?  There are no safeguards provided against the abusive interpretation by this committee of the legal conditions for access to abortion.  However, the pressure to allow for the legalization of abortion is very strong, especially from the European and international institutions.[4]

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Thus, the final interpretative power of the conditions for access to abortion will be transferred to the judicial power and ultimately to the European Court of Human Rights.  With such a mechanism, the European Court would soon be called on to decide on the reasons for decisions of refusal of those committees.  This would be a new opportunity to advance the right to abortion in Ireland.  Ultimately, the control of the framework of abortion is taken away from the legislator and to the doctor. Concerning the legislator, the decision in principle of whether to permit or not to permit abortion will no longer belong to the State and its citizens, because it is sufficient for the European Court to declare that there is actually a ‘right to abortion’ in Ireland, in order to impose this as a new and authentic interpretation of the Irish Constitution.  As to the doctor, his power will be transferred to the judge, guarantor of the respect for human rights.

During its December 6, 2012 meeting, the delegates to the Committee of Ministers invited Ireland to answer the issue of the “general prohibition of abortion in criminal law’, as it constitutes ‘a significant chilling factor for women and doctors because of the risk of criminal conviction and imprisonment’, inviting ‘the Irish authorities to expedite the implementation of the judgment…as soon as possible.”[5]  Further considerations on the execution of this judgment will be resumed at the latest during the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers in March 2013.

Some questions arise:  why such pressure on Ireland and Poland, when they are among the best countries in the world in respect of maternal services, far ahead of France and the United States?[6]

Why transfer to the judge the responsibility of the doctor, when assessing the medical necessity of the abortion is the scientific responsibility of the doctor?  Why is it so urgent to legalize abortion?  Why did the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decide to give ‘precedence’ to these cases, when so many cases concerning torture, disappearances, and murders are treated under the ordinary procedure?  Maybe because abortion profoundly defines the culture of a country – its legalization has the value of a ritual passage into post-modernity, as it allows the domination of individual will over life, subjectivity over objectivity.

This process it is not ineluctable, it depends on the strength of the political will of the Irish and Polish governments which can recall to the Council of Europe that their respective country has never engage to legalize abortion by ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, simply because abortion is not a human right, but a derogation to the right to life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.[7]

The European Centre for Law and Justice is an international, Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and worldwide. The ECLJ holds special Consultative Status before the United Nations/ECOSOC since 2007. The ECLJ engages legal, legislative, and cultural issues by implementing an effective strategy of advocacy, education, and litigation. The ECLJ advocates in particular the protection of religious freedoms and the dignity of the person with the European Court of Human Rights and the other mechanisms afforded by the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and others. The ECLJ bases its action on “the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of European peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy” (Preamble of the Statute of the Council of Europe).

ENDNOTES:
1. See the Report of the official group of experts instituted by the Irish Government to propose ways of executing the judgment, published in November 2012 et accessible to this address: http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/Judgment_ABC.pdf?direct=1
2. See the communication of the « Centre for reproductive rights » to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the answer of the Polish Government DH-DD(2010)610E
3. See the Report onPoland of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, M. Anand Grover, 20 May 2010, Human Rights Council, document n° A/HRC/14/20/Add.3).
4. See the Report of the Human Rights Commissioner on his visit in Ireland (26-30 November 2007), adopted on 30 April 2008 (CommDH(2008)9), the Report of the Committee for the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW), of the High Commissioner Office of Human Rights of July 2005 (A/60/38(SUPP), the Periodical Report of the Human Rights Committee on the observance of the UN Covenant on civil and political rights (CCPR/C/IRL/CO/3, 30 July 2008).
5. 1157DH meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies 04 December 2012, Decision concerning the execution of A., B. and C. v. Ireland judgment.
6. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990-2010. Estimates Developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT (last visited 20th November 2012).
7. The European Centre for Law and Justice submitted a report to the Committee of Ministers on the execution of A. B. and C. v. Ireland DD(2012)917 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution/Themes/Add_info/IRL-ai_en.asp

Reprinted from C-FAM.org.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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