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Abortion 'Right' Denied in European 'Roe v. Wade' Case

In a case dubbed the "Roe v. Wade of Europe," the Europe Court of Human Rights concluded on Thursday that there is no required right to abortion throughout the European Union.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that its European Convention does not contain any rights to abortion in the controversial A, B, and C v. Ireland case.

The case has been dubbed Europe's Roe v. Wade because a loss would have meant that all countries in the Council of Europe would be obligated to allow abortion or face large financial penalties in damages if ever sued.

The decision is great news for faith-based defense firm, Alliance Defense Fund.

"In this case, the court wisely upheld that right as it has done in the past. The stakes were clearly high for all of Europe, but also for other Western nations, such as the U.S., because their courts often closely watch how European courts are ruling," said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska.

Kiska is based in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, and worked with ADF to develop its allied attorney network in Europe. ADF was active in the case. The group partnered with the Family Research Council and two other pro-life groups filed a brief, allowing them to interview as the defendant in the case.

"No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless, and no one should force any sovereign nation to give up its right to protect life in its constitution if it so chooses," Kiska commented.

The case began after three anonymous women in Ireland sued under the European Convention on Human Rights to overturn the country's legal protections, established in 1953, for pre-born children. Reportedly, the women sought an abortion in Britain because Ireland's Constitution prevented them from receiving the procedure within country limits.

Article 40.3.3 of Ireland's constitution reads, "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

The women, referred to as A, B, and C, fought to establish a "right" to abortion in Ireland. The women also sought a precedent that would open the door to abortion as a right across all of Europe under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court dismissed the claims of two of the three women, allowing for the protections to stand.

However, in the case of the remaining woman who sought the right to an abortion for emergency medical purposes, the court found that Ireland should provide a more clear procedure to determine risk to the life of the mother and therefore access to abortion rather than requiring a person in her situation to file a legal action with regard to the country's constitution.

She was awarded 15,000 euros in monetary damages.

There was some dispute as to whether the suit should have been tried in the Grand Chamber.

Basic conditions of admissibility stipulate that the case should first be taken to the courts of the country concerned. Only after a case has exhausted every possible domestic level of jurisdiction may it come to the European Court.

In 2006, a similar case, D. v. Ireland, was declared inadmissible in because it had not been brought before Irish courts.

Ireland's counsel noted the precedent during oral arguments, "No doubt that this application is a significant case … but also for the Court's relationship with contracting states, their judicial processes and the principle of subsidiarity. … Rarely, if ever, [has the Court been asked to address] such important issues on such inadequate factual basis."

The A, B and C lawsuit, however, seemingly evaded this precedent. The judgment handed down in this case will now be binding on all lower chambers and member states, making it a pivotal case in European pro-life history.

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