Following his visit to Ireland at the end of 2016, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published a report on 9 March in which he “immediately requested the Irish authorities to adopt legislation to lift all of the obstacles preventing women from accessing legal, risk-free abortion”.
Since 2013, Irish legislation on the “protection of life during pregnancy” has authorised abortion if the mother’s life is in jeopardy. In other circumstances, “abortion can carry a prison sentence of up to 14 years”. The Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which was included in 1983, “in principle upholds the ‘an unborn child’s right to life’, equating it to a ‘pregnant woman’s right to life’”. Estimating that “the right to life does not apply to prenatal life”, the Commissioner is calling for the removal of this Eighth Amendment, which “plays a key role in blocking any attempts to globally reform abortion legislation in Ireland”.
Ireland is “regularly under international pressure because of its abortion law” (see Pressure on Ireland to legalise abortion). The last UN statement was issued in June 2016 (see Abortion: UN pressure on Ireland). The Eighth Amendment is currently “under discussion by the Citizen’s Assembly”. Conclusions should be reached “in the coming weeks” (see Ireland: heading towards a referendum to extend access to abortion by the end of 2017?).
Les Nouvelles (29/03/2017); Reuters, Padraic Halpin (29/03/2017)