Europe Pressuring Ireland to Drop Abortion Ban?

A European pro-life law expert has said that Ireland may be on the verge of caving in to the Council of Europe and revising its abortion laws, which its citizens had firmly objected to until now.

"How can a country, that refused abortion three times by referendums, be pressured to legalize it in the name of a Convention which does not enshrine a right to abortion," asks Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D., Director General of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an organization that advocates for defending religious freedom in law.

Puppinck explains in an article that Ireland "is a symbol of resistance against abortion," being one of the only countries in Europe that prohibits abortion in almost all forms. The island-nation has rejected the legalization of abortion three times since the 1980s in voter referendums, but the recent tragedy of the Hindu woman who passed away after being denied an abortion procedure.

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"The Council of Europe is at the heart of a campaign aiming to impose abortion 'from the top' onto people who refused it 'from the bottom' three times, by referendums in 1983, 1992 and 2002," the Director General writes.

Savita Halappanavar, an Ireland resident, died on Oct. 28 when she was 17 weeks pregnant after being denied an abortion. Her baby that died earlier that week was surgically removed from the 31-year-old mother, but that did not save her as her condition worsened. The Hindu woman was denied the procedure by the hospital where she was staying, because the largely Roman Catholic country opposes the practice.

In November, pro-choice activists pushed for the legalization of abortion, pointing to Halappanavar's case, with two members of the Irish parliament urging lawmakers to legalize abortion completely in Ireland – but that motion was voted down 90 to 53 in the parliament.

Ireland, which is part of the European Union, is being pressured by the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights to follow the example of other European countries and legalize abortion, Puppinck argued.

He details in his article a number of steps the Council of Europe has taken to try and pressure Ireland and Poland, another country with restrictive abortion laws, to reconsider their stances.

"This process it is not ineluctable, it depends on the strength of the political will of the Irish and Polish Governments which can recall to the Council of Europe that their respective country has never engage to legalize abortion by ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, simply because abortion is not a human right, but a derogation to the right to life guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights," Puppinck summarizes.

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