Abortion Rights Campaign calls on Government to follow UN recommendations to hold referendum on Article 40.3.3°

Thursday 24 July 2014

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) has today welcomed a call for wider abortion access in Ireland by a UN committee of international human rights experts. The UN Human Rights Committee’s ‘Concluding Observations’ were published this morning on foot of Ireland’s examination earlier this month under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the State has signed and ratified.

ARC spokesperson Sinéad Corcoran, who delivered the joint statement on abortion at the UN hearings in Geneva, said today: “It is through the scrutiny on an international stage of Ireland’s human rights record that Ireland is shown to be a pariah state when it comes to its criminalisation of abortion in practically all circumstances. The Abortion Rights Campaign has always maintained that Ireland’s denial of what is considered health-care in the vast majority of developed countries is grossly unjust and a violation of international human rights norms. Today’s UN recommendations not only vindicate our position, but provide once again an unambiguous clarion call for the Irish State to end what the Committee has clearly and unanimously identified as discrimination in Irish law.”

ARC spokesperson Alison Spillane, who also attended the hearings in Geneva, said: “In our submission to the Human Rights Committee ARC argued that Article 40.3.3° and the State’s rigid interpretation of it prevents women in Ireland from accessing abortion and exercising the full spectrum of human and reproductive rights. We were extremely heartened by the Committee’s very strong assertion during the hearing in Geneva that the Government’s use of the Constitution as a means of abdicating their responsibility to protect the rights of women in Ireland is completely unacceptable. We are delighted that the Committee has now recommended that the State revise its legislation on abortion, including the Constitution, to comply with international human rights law, and we call on the Government to act on this recommendation without delay.”

Ms Spillane added: “While we await a referendum at the soonest possible opportunity, the Government must repeal Section 22 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 (PLDPA) as an interim measure in order to address the Committee’s concerns about the criminalisation of abortion.”

Ms Corcoran concluded, “While the Committee’s recommendations specifically call for increased access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormality and risk to the pregnant woman’s health, we note that they specifically mention the discriminatory effect of the PLDPA on women who are unable to travel. The inability to travel disproportionately affects women with financial difficulties, health issues, family responsibilities and tenuous residency statuses. The Abortion Rights Campaign reiterates its position that abortion should be free, safe and legal in Ireland and accessible to all, what ever the reason. ARC will continue to campaign for the full right to choose.”



UN Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations on Ireland: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fIRL%2fCO%2f4&Lang=en

Abortion Rights Campaign’s submission to the UN Human Rights Committee: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/IRL/INT_CCPR_CSS_IRL_17432_E.pdf