Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Ireland’s pro-life laws violated woman’s rights: European court

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

STRASBOURG, December 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The European Court of Human Rights has found that Ireland’s constitutional legal protections for the unborn violated the right to privacy of one of the three applicants in a mixed decision in the much-anticipated ABC case. The Court ordered the Irish government to pay €15,000 to the third applicant within three months.

However, at the same time the Court dismissed the complaints of the other two women and found that there is “no human right to abortion” stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights, an aspect of the decision that has been welcomed by pro-life leaders.

The case was brought by one Lithuanian living in Ireland and two Irish nationals who sought abortions in the UK and who claimed that Ireland’s 1983 constitutional amendment outlawing abortion violated their rights.

The third woman was in remission from a rare form of cancer at the time she sought an abortion. She claimed that the pregnancy could lead to the cancer’s return. Irish law technically allows abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, but she alleged that “the chilling effect of the Irish legal framework,” had violated her right to be told of the “option” of abortion.

The Court has instructed the Irish government to issue guidance to allow doctors to inform women in what circumstances abortion is a legal option. It claimed that the Irish Constitution gives women a “right” to abortion under its protection of the equal right to life of the mother of an unborn child.

Bernadette Smyth of the Irish pro-life group Precious Life said that “we welcome” the decision that there is no “human right” to abortion under the European Convention. However, she continued, “the Court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution in its ruling on the third woman.”

Liam Gibson, who works in Ireland for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and spoke to LifeSiteNews.com minutes after the decision was issued, agreed that the Court had “totally misunderstood” Irish law under which there is no such thing as a “right” to abortion. 

“The court is pretending there is a legal option for abortion,” Gibson said. “But abortion is not health care. Under Irish law, everyone has the right to adequate medical care to protect life, but this can never include direct abortion, the deliberate killing of an unborn child,” he said.

The ruling, he said, “has turned the pro-life amendment on its head and says it gives a right to abortion. But that’s a complete reversal of what the constitution says and the purpose of it.

“Recognising the equal right of the mother and the child does not give the mother a right to abortion.”

Pro-life interveners made lengthy submissions to the Court demonstrating that abortion is never included in any definition of health care in Ireland. “They should have thrown the case out completely,” Gibson said. “But the ideology of abortion runs right through the European Court of Human rights.”

John Smeaton, the head of SPUC in London warned that the decision will have far-reaching effects on the attempts in Europe to secure the right to life of all persons.

“This warped decision lacks all legitimacy,” Smeaton said. “This case was never about helping women faced with a crisis pregnancy. It was instigated by the international abortion lobby, which has with the ultimate aim of forcing governments across the globe to recognise access to abortion as a legal right.”

Gibson said that ECHR, due to its “pervasive” pro-abortion mentality, has assumed that abortion is invariably included in health care. He warned that the decision will be used as a pretext for weakening Irish law, saying there is a strongly pro-abortion mentality within Ireland’s political class. While it does not immediately overturn the law, the ECHR ruling will likely cause problems at the next general election, he said.

Abortion is prohibited not only by Ireland’s constitution, but under criminal law by section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. According to the Civil Liability Act, “the law relating to wrongs shall apply to an unborn child for his protection in like manner as if the child were born, provided the child is subsequently born alive”.

Gibson said that a new government would likely try to bring in abortion through medical practice guidelines, binding on physicians, that would not be subject to a referendum.

Such guidelines have been repeatedly brought forward by pro-abortion activists in the British government in Northern Ireland, although they have been rejected as contrary to Northern Irish law that also prohibits abortion.

Gibson said, “The problem will be when an incoming government chooses to use this ruling to establish a wider access to abortion.”

“The attitude will certainly be favourable to the pro-abortion side,” in any new government. “They’ve only been too eager to try to put through some legislation or guideline that will not have to be brought to the people.”

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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