Ireland Must Legislate For Broader Abortion Access, UN Women’s Rights Committee Says

Press Release from Abortion Rights Campaign 07 March 2017

– For Immediate Release –


Irish State told the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is not fit for purpose by UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Handing down their concluding observations today in Geneva, the CEDAW Committee said they are “concerned” by the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 (PLDPA). The Act was brought in to satisfy Ireland’s obligations following the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A, B, C v Ireland. However, the Committee noted that the Act legislates only when the life of the woman is at risk and “that this exception is interpreted in a very restrictive manner”, failing to give access in practice. The Committee told the State they must repeal the PLDPA and introduce legislation that brings Ireland’s abortion laws in line with International human rights law, and decriminalise abortion in all cases.

The Committee has requested that the Irish State provide a written statement on what steps they have taken to implement the recommendation on repealing the PLDPA, and how they will legislate for broader access to abortion access in Ireland, within the next 2 years.

Michali Hyams, who represented the Abortion Rights Campaign in Geneva last month, stated “It is heartening to see that abortion was a priority issue for the CEDAW Committee. It is clear that the State has failed under its obligations to ensure the human rights of women and girls are protected under Irish law. The PLDPA, brought in to satisfy Ireland’s obligation under human rights law has been specifically condemned by The Committee, proving that the Act is not fit for purpose.”

She added “This is the bare minimum the State must do to uphold their obligations under International human rights law. It is clear from the failure of the PLDPA that the Government must repeal the 8th Amendment before it can legislate to ensure women and girls have access to necessary healthcare services, in line with international best practice.”

Linda Kavanagh, also present during Ireland’s CEDAW reporting session, noted: “The comments of the CEDAW Committee further support the calls by advocacy groups at this weekend’s sitting of the Citizens’ Assembly for the Government to call a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment, and legislate for broader access to abortion services in Ireland”

She continued: “During the CEDAW session, the Irish representative told the Committee that they did not have a “crystal ball” to predict the future of abortion access in Ireland. These recommendations show clearly that the Committee is not interested in vague promises and are demanding a timeline be imposed by the State to conclude the Citizens Assembly, put their recommendations through the Oireachtas and put the issue to a vote.”

“As we outlined in our submission to the Citizens Assembly, legislation that ensures free, safe and legal abortion is the gold standard and ensures abortion access for marginalised women, as highlighted by the Committee recommendation. This will ensure real and realistic access for abortion and bring Ireland up to the human rights standards it has signed up for.”



For Further Information and Comment Contact

Michali Hyams, Policy and Advocacy Rep, [email protected]

Linda Kavanagh, Media Spokesperson, [email protected]

Notes to Editor

– The Committee also noted that the Regulation of Information Act of 1995 must be repealed to ensure that women and girls have “free access to sexual and reproductive health information and education” and can make an informed choice about their healthcare needs. The Committee stated that the 1995 act forces “healthcare providers, physicians and pregnancy counsellors” to “operate under a constant fear that their services may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution”.

– The full CEDAW Concluding Observations can be found here:

–  ARC’s submission to the Citizens Assembly included our vision for free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland as well as the personal stories of 60 people from all different backgrounds, it can be accessed by searching for ‘Abortion Rights Campaign’ on the Assembly website (