Three women are asking the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the Republic of Ireland’s ban on abortion.
Their case hinges on articles in the European Convention on Human Rights on discrimination and the right to life and health.
The women – who have all faced medical complications because of their pregnancies – claim that their inability to have an abortion damaged their health.
One of the women had run the risk of ectopic pregnancy; another had received chemotherapy for cancer; the third had other children placed in care because she was unable to cope.
Abortion is only allowed in the Republic of Ireland when the mother’s life is at risk.
The three women are being supported by the pro-abortion group, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), which campaigns for legal abortion in the Republic.
In a similar case in Poland, a woman who was warned that her pregnancy may seriously damage her eyesight was denied an abortion. In that case the European Court of Human Rights recommended that the Polish law be reviewed.
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.”
Simon Calvert, of The Christian Institute, said: “Any attempt to lift the ban on abortion in the Republic of Ireland would be totally incompatible with its cultural and religious character.
“This is a country with a strong commitment to the sanctity of life. The European Court of Human Rights must not impose secular values on countries which do not want them.”