Ireland’s government is contesting the grounds on which three women are trying to overturn the country’s abortion ban at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The women’s challenge is being supported by the pro-abortion Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), which hopes that the case will force the Irish Government to change the law on abortion.
The women – who each had pregnancies with medical or circumstantial complications – say that being denied an abortion was a breach of their human rights.
But the Government says the women failed to explore all the legal avenues available to them in Ireland before going to the ECHR, which should have been a last resort.
It also questions their claim to have received “inhuman or degrading treatment”, pointing out the availability of aftercare and post-abortion counselling services in Ireland.
The Government says that Ireland’s existing abortion law reflects the outcome of a series of referendums and to change it would require another vote.
Earlier this year, the IFPA commented on the case: “We hope the case will advance quickly through the court, ultimately making a strong recommendation to the Government to reform Irish laws and the current status quo on abortion.”
Abortion is only allowed in the Republic of Ireland when the mother’s life is at risk.
Pro-life groups in the Republic of Ireland say that a constitutional change would be needed to overturn the current law on abortion.
The constitution currently states: “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.”