Irish abortion laws are 'inhumane' and discriminatory, says UN

Despite repealing the eighth amendment in 2018, Irish abortion laws still have a long way to go, according to the UN Human Rights Council.

Hélèane Tigroudja speaks at UN to call Irish abortion laws

Irish abortion laws have been deemed “inhumane” and discriminatory during the most recent International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) conference, according to the UN human rights council. Attending the conference that took place in Geneva, was Minister for Children, Equality, Integration and Youth of Ireland, Roderic O’Gorman.

O’Gorman was accompanied by a number of NGOs led by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties who will be briefing the body. One such member is Hélène Tigroudja, who pointed out that the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 has placed “very many barriers, both legal and practical” to “safe, legal and non-discriminatory access to abortion”.

In reference to the mandatory three-day wait period for abortion, Ms Tigroudja said this was “a disadvantage for women living in rural areas, women in poverty and women experiencing violence who simply cannot return several times”.

The three-day period is particularly discriminatory towards those accessing abortion in Direct Provision, given the rural locations of DP centres and the economic barriers in place. This comment comes mere days after an anti-choice protest took place in Dublin calling for the preservation of the three-day wait period.

These access barriers cause issues in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities also. According to Irish abortion laws, abortion is a medical option after 12 weeks only if the foetus is incompatible with life and will not survive past 28 days outside of the womb.

However, given the 2018 legislation does not mandate health care practitioners to carry out abortions, if a woman is denied abortion access and unable to travel they must carry the pregnancy to term.

“This is a problem for women who are less well off. They have to continue with their pregnancy. This is inhuman treatment and this is discrimination on the grounds of economic status”, Tigroudja said.

In regards to the mother and baby home survivors, she stated that the conditions surrounding redress are “a complete flagrant violation of the CCPR and the European Convention on Human Rights”. At present, survivors cannot pursue legal action if they wish to access redress.

“I will remind you there are very serious violations here. The payment of financial compensation ex gratia does not free the State of its obligation to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for abuse”.

The conference will continue today. Yesterday’s live stream is available in full on the UN website.

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