On the eve of the debate on the Protection of Life in Pregnancy (Amendment) (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) Bill 2013, Amnesty International Ireland is calling on the Government to recognise that the Constitution is no excuse for human rights violations.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “It has been reported today that the Government will be rejecting the Bill on the basis that it would require constitutional amendment. The Government has an obligation to ensure that any impediment to human rights compliance, even a constitutional one, must be overcome. The UN Human Rights Committee has already made this very point to Ireland. In July 2014, it called on the Government to revise its laws – including its Constitution where necessary – to provide for access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal impairment.”
“We encourage the Government to make clear commitments in tomorrow’s debate on the Bill that it will legislate for access to abortion in cases of fatal foetal impairment, and that the Constitution will be amended to bring Ireland into compliance with its human rights obligations.”
In July 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee issued its concluding observations on Ireland’s fourth periodic report, in which it expressed concerns over the criminalisation of abortion under section 22 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act including in cases of fatal foetal impairment and also in cases of rape, incest and serious risks to the health of the pregnant woman or girl, which may lead to up to 14 years of imprisonment. It also criticised the severe mental suffering caused by the denial of abortion services to women pregnant as a result of rape or incest, and in cases of fatal foetal impairment or serious risks to the pregnant woman or girl’s health.
It called on Ireland to provide for access to abortion in cases of rape, incest, serious risks to the health of the woman or girl, and fatal foetal impairment; and to revise its laws and Constitution accordingly.