Quick Hit: European Court of Human Rights Rejects Irish Ban on Abortion

Some good news coming out of Europe this week: yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion violates the rights of pregnant women to receive proper medical care in life-threatening cases.

This is huge; each year, more than 6,000 women travel abroad from Ireland to obtain abortion services, often at costs of over $1,500 per trip. This ruling will not only significantly liberalize Ireland’s draconian abortion laws and reduce the incidence of unsafe, illegal abortion in that country, but will help advance the establishment of global reproductive rights standards as well.

That being said, there’s more work to be done. The court still ruled that two other women’s cases (who didn’t have life-threatening situations) were not recognized as human rights violations. I guess it’s all about taking baby steps on this one.

You can access the full judgment here, and read a fact sheet on the importance of access to safe abortion here.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I was briefly at University of Limerick 3 years ago, and I can’t think of anywhere where I’ve felt more unsafe being a woman. I was living on campus with mostly first-year undergraduates, and it was always a given that if a female student needed to go out at night, 1 or 2 of her male friends would be responsible to drop what he was doing and accompany her. Near the end of my time there I learned that someone I knew back home had passed away, and at around midnight I decided to run over to a friend’s apartment (less than .3 km away, both apartments were on-campus) because I needed the support. The very first thing she and her roommates said to me was “What you did was dangerous, you should not have come here alone.”

    I attended the orientation for international students, and while it was clearly emphasized that the area was unsafe and that women should not be out alone at night, there wasn’t any mention at all about resources for survivors of sexual violence. The students would hear rumors of these incidents at least once every 2 weeks. Most of the young women I talked to would see these incidents as individual occurrences (“She didn’t do enough to protect herself” or “She was unlucky”)

    I ended up becoming very ill while I was in Ireland, and leaving after only four months. Between my illness and my resentment of my constant male accompaniment, by the end of my time there I was only leaving my home to fill the bare minimum of my responsibilities. I think my time in Ireland is the reason why I keep sinking money into my car, even though I currently live in a city where car ownership is impractical, and the public transportation is safe and meets all of my needs. Being able to leave my home safely at any time is no longer a privilege I take for granted…

    I’m sorry for getting so off topic, I just really needed to get this off my chest.

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