Ireland’s abortion ban is cruel, discriminatory and degrading, UN rules

Ireland’s abortion ban is discriminatory, cruel and degrading and should be ended for cases involving unborn babies with deadly abnormalities, United Nations human rights experts said Thursday. The ban violates human rights laws and needs urgent reform, the experts argued in a 29-page report. It was “discriminatory because it places the burden of criminal liability primarily on the pregnant woman”, they added. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said the U.N. findings should shame Ireland into further action.

The Irish government must take its head out of the sand and see that it has to tackle this issue

Colm O'Gorman, Amnesty’s director in Ireland

Ireland permits abortions only in cases where the woman’s own life is endangered by continued pregnancy. It means women who have babies which will not survive outside the womb must carry them to full term. Now, the UN has challenged that finding after a complaint filed by Amanda Mellet, a Dublin woman who was forced to go to England to abort a fetus with a fatal heart defect in 2011. The UN said Ireland’s law made the rights of inviable fetuses superior to the rights of women and this arbitrary imbalance “cannot be justified”.

I hope the day will soon come when women in Ireland will be able to access the health services they need in our own country, where we can be with our loved ones, with our own medical team, and where we have our own familiar bed to go home and cry in.

Amanda Mellet