DUBLIN, February 6, 2012 ( – Today Irish media is full of the abortion issue as the country marks 20 years since the infamous X case – a case that some abortion advocates had hoped would be Ireland’s Roe v. Wade, but which ultimately served only to galvanize pro-life activism to successfully stop abortion’s encroachment into the pro-life country.

In the case, “X,” a 14 year-old pregnant victim of sexual abuse, was to be taken to the UK to abort her child, but was stopped by a High Court injunction obtained by the Attorney General. The injunction was overturned by the Supreme Court when the girl’s attorney claimed that the girl had threatened suicide.

The majority opinion in the case held that a woman had a right to an abortion under the constitution if there was “a real and substantial risk” to her life, and that this included a risk from a threat of suicide.

However, because the abortion law in Ireland can only be directly overturned by a referendum, since the X decision “it has been crucial to keep public opinion, not just informed, but alert to legislation that attempts to introduce abortion by the back door,” according to Niamh Ui Bhriain, head of Ireland’s Life Institute.


The X Case was intended to be Ireland’s Roe v. Wade and has “been exploited by abortion campaigners and their media allies to whip up a frenzied call for abortion-on-demand,” Ui Bhriain said.

But in Ireland, the tactic that had worked in the U.S. and elsewhere failed, and strong pro-life public opinion prevailed. Huge opposition to abortion was organized and mobilized around the X Case and foreign pressure for legalization backfired.

Since the establishment of the Republic of Ireland’s pro-life constitutional amendment in 1983, abortion lobbyists have fought through the courts both at home and at the EU to overturn, abolish or squirm around it and establish a “right” to legalized abortion throughout the country.

Pro-life leaders told that since the notorious X Case decision, it has been a constant battle to uphold the law and keep abortion out of Ireland.

Ui Bhriain said there is “a concerted campaign culminating in this use of the twentieth anniversary of the X case to try to foist abortion on Ireland.”

Recently the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the A,B and C Case that the government has erred in failing to make it clear under what circumstances a woman has a “legal right” to abortion. Irish legal experts, however, maintain that it is the Court that erred in implying that there is such a thing as a “right to abortion” under the current law.

Nevertheless, ABC was the impetus for a review of the law by a government-appointed panel of experts, leading to renewed fears from pro-lifers of a major push to legalize abortion in Ireland.

Across the European Union, abortion activists are engaged in an ongoing campaign to establish the concept of a “right” to abortion under the European Convention on Human Rights. Ireland, being the only country in the EU whose pro-life law cannot be overturned by a simple act of parliament, is a key in the struggle to bring unrestricted abortion across the European region.

“The global abortion industry has focused huge attention on Ireland in the past few years in particular. Planned Parenthood has brought a raft of cases to the European and the EU courts. We’ve had international bodies like Human Rights Watch attack our pro-life stance and the UN was used to demand that Ireland legalises abortion,” Ui Bhriain said.

But pro-life advocates are hopeful that the country will stay true to its pro-life roots despite the increasing pressure.

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