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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Ireland must reject European court’s abortion judgment, says intervener SPUC

16 December 2010

Ireland must reject European court’s abortion judgment, says intervener SPUC Strasbourg, 16 December 2010: Pro-life campaigners are urging the people of Ireland to resist pressure from the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the country’s constitutional protection for children before birth.

The Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was commenting on this morning’s judgment (full text , press release ) by the court in the A, B, and C case of three Irish residents who challenged Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion.

SPUC was an intervening party in the case (read SPUC's joint submission with other pro-life groups ) The court rejected the legal arguments of the first two women, but said that the third woman's right to a private life under article 8 of the European Convention had been violated by a failure of the Irish state to make her rights regarding abortion accessible to her.

The court claimed that the Irish Constitution gives women a right to abortion under the Constitution's protection of the equal right to life of the mother of an unborn child.

The third woman was in remission from cancer at the time of the pregnancy and feared that the pregnancy would cause a relapse of her cancer.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: "The court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution and confused abortion with healthcare. The Irish Constitution does not confer any right to abortion, nor can the right to life of unborn children in any way be held to be in competition with the right to life of their mothers. Abortion is not healthcare, and Ireland, where abortion is banned, has the world's best record for maternal health. If implemented in law, this judgement would legalize abortion in a wide range of circumstances. "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. “This warped decision lacks all legitimacy. It is vitally important that the people of Ireland continue to stand-up for the rights of unborn children who are the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. Abortion not only kills children: it is deeply damaging to women", concluded Mr Smeaton.

Patrick Buckley, of European Life Network Ireland and of SPUC, said: “The court has failed to respect Ireland’s national sovereignty by unilaterally misinterpreting the Irish Constitution's protection of the right to life. 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? “In protecting  the unborn from abortion Ireland is fulfilling its duty under international human rights law to protect the lives of its innocent citizens. In any case, the Irish Supreme Court has already ruled* that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases”, concluded Mr Buckley.

* McD. -v- L.&anor , 10 Dec 2009 The right to life is the fundamental human right on which all other rights depend. Article 2 of the European Convention recognises the right to life of everyone, regardless of race, nationality, sex, age, birth or any other status. This is also recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No legally-binding international agreement has ever recognised access to abortion as a human right. Liam Gibson of SPUC is outside the court in Strasbourg today and is available to the media for comment. Mr Gibson can be telephoned on: •    mobile +44 (0)7984 990668 or •    mobile +44 (0)7968 078773 and emailed at SPUC’s London-based media office can be telephoned on: •    landline +44 (0)20 7820 3129 or •    mobile +44 (0)7939 177683 and emailed at SPUC’s previous media releases on the case can be found at:

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