Pro-life leaders react to European Court ruling on Irish abortion law
ROME, December 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life leaders across the continent of Europe have responded to today’s mixed decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the ABC Case.
The Court ruled in favor of the complaint of one of the three women in the case, who had been receiving treatment for cancer at the time she sought an abortion, saying that Ireland’s pro-life laws violated her right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the same time, the Court found that there is “no human right to abortion” stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights.
(Click here to find out more about the decision)
Patrick Buckley, an Irishman and head of the European Life Network Ireland said today’s ruling on Ireland’s pro-life laws is a threat to the innocent lives they protect as well as to Irish national sovereignty.
Speaking from Strasbourg this morning, Buckley said the court has “unilaterally” misinterpreted Ireland’s laws, including its constitutional clause protecting life from conception.
“Ireland must dismiss out of hand this interference in a very sensitive national and constitutional issue. Europe is again deciding over the heads of the Irish people. We wonder what will be next tomorrow?” he said.
Youth Defence, Ireland’s largest pro-life advocacy group described the ruling as “intrusive, unwelcome and an attempt to violate Ireland’s pro-life laws.” They warned the Irish government that any attempt to implement it by loosening Ireland’s prohibition of abortion would be met with prompt concerted action.
Youth Defence’s Rebecca Roughneen said that the Court’s finding was “not surprising” and confirmed that it is in line with much of the EU institution in its pervasive pro-abortion mentality. Roughneen noted that the Council of Europe, that governs the court, has also attempted “to coerce Ireland into legalising abortion.”
Roughneen added that it is untrue that pregnant women in Ireland cannot obtain treatment for cancer, even if it poses a threat to an unborn child: “What the court refused to recognise was that medical treatment for cancer which causes unintentional harm to the unborn baby is not an abortion, and this treatment is therefore fully accessible to all Irish women.”
The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) said that it “cautiously welcomes” the decision. In a press release the ECLJ said that “applauds the recognition by the ECHR of the existence of the ‘right to life of the unborn’” and the right of Ireland to create its own laws on abortion.
However, they continued, the ECLJ “rejects the assumption that the ECHR has that the Irish constitution does allow abortion.”
“For the ECLJ, it has to remain very clear that the authentic interpretation of the Irish Constitution belongs only to the Irish Constitutional Court, not to the ECHR,” said the organization.
Director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth said, “We welcome the court ruling that two women involved in the case had not had their rights breached. But the European Court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution in its ruling on the third woman.”
“They have made the mistake of blurring the clear difference between legitimate medical treatment and abortion,” she said. “Under the Irish Constitution, no woman in Ireland is refused legitimate medical treatment for any complication during pregnancy. In some cases the child may die as an unintentional side-effect of the treatment, but this is not abortion.
“There are no medical circumstances where a pregnant women life can only saved by abortion. The fact is, without abortion, Ireland is the safest country in which to be pregnant. Irish women receive the best medical care in the world. In the latest report from the United Nations on maternal mortality, Ireland came first in terms of safety for pregnant women.”
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the ruling is not enforceable.
“The Court cannot force Ireland to change her laws or collect penalties from Ireland if we refuse,” she said. While the ECHR, she said, does have a legal standing in Ireland, it has with this ruling “completely demolished its own moral authority by denying human rights to unborn children.”
“This is a high-handed, coercive judgment,” she said. “It’s agenda-driven, illogical and refuses to recognise either the medical facts, or the sovereign right of the Irish people to decide on important moral issues.”
“In Ireland, under our constitution, the people are sovereign: they will make the final decision in regard to abortion. That’s a right the Irish people feel very strongly about - and that’s why our politicians haven’t moved to legalise abortion here - because there would be uproar,” she added.
Youth Defence said the whole exercise had been a part of a larger effort to have abortion classed as medical treatment in Ireland. Roughneen pointed out that the Irish Family Planning Association, Ireland’s leading abortion lobbyist, has led a propaganda campaign in the past to define medical treatments for ectopic pregnancy or cancer, which can result in the unintended death of the unborn child, as abortion. This attempt to confuse the issue, Roughneen said, was countered successfully by a massive public education campaign by Youth Defence.
John Smeaton, head of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and a veteran of the struggle against the global growth of the abortion ideology, 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.”
Joseph Meaney, the international officer for Human Life International spoke to LSN from their Rome office, saying, “This whole case was a tactic of the International Planned Parenthood Federation to attack the pro-life laws in Ireland and in Europe generally.”
The Court, he said, has shown a “skewed vision” of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Fortunately, they did rule that Ireland’s laws must be respected in not allowing abortion for social, economic or health reasons, but they did accept the argument that abortion must be permitted for an undefined risk to the life of the mother.” This definition has been used in other countries to open the door to abortion on demand.
Meaney pledged that his organization will work in Ireland and internationally to prevent the ruling from overturning Irish law.
“An even greater vigilance is needed now,” he said, “since the abortion promoters will now try to spin the interpretation of this small victory into laws or regulations that will effectively allow abortion for many mothers in Ireland.”