disappointing ruling from european court on ireland's abortion ban

From the Abortion Support Network:
December 16, 2010

Abortion Support Network disappointed by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the challenge to Ireland’s abortion ban

Abortion Support Network is extremely disappointed with today’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to the challenge to Ireland’s abortion ban by three women who underwent considerable hardship and trauma by being forced to travel to England in order to access a safe and legal abortion. As an organisation that provides support to women who are forced to make this journey, we know the significant distress, worry and financial burden that women in Ireland are made to bear by being denied an abortion in their own country.

Every year thousands of women are forced to make this journey, and do so under extremely difficult, often desperate, circumstances. They face the struggles of finding the money to pay for the cost of the trip and procedure, of taking time off work, and sometimes the additional costs and difficulties of finding child care. These costs can range from anything between £400 and £2000. Women face the additional burden and stress of maintaining secrecy about their abortion back home. As a result, these women are incredibly isolated and many travel alone.

Abortion Support Network’s Director, Mara Clarke said:

“While we are encouraged by the ruling that woman “C”, who was undergoing chemotherapy when she fell pregnant, had her human rights violated, we are deeply saddened that the Court chose not to recognise the hardships faced by the two other claimants in the case.

The sooner the Irish government rectifies this long-standing injustice, the sooner women will be able to make their own decisions about abortion and make choices that are right for them.

Every week we hear from pregnant women living in Ireland who are in a state of crisis, with no other place to turn. As long as women in the Republic of Ireland do not have access to safe and legal abortions in their home country, Abortion Support Network will offer them immediate, practical support in the form of confidential, non-judgemental information, accommodation and financial help towards the costs of their abortion.

We will also continue to offer our support to women in Northern Ireland, and other countries where women’s rights continue to be violated by the denial of access to safe and legal abortions in their home countries.

We will help women irrespective of circumstance as it is our belief that women are capable of making their own decisions.”

In the words of one of the women that we have supported, a 37 year old mother of three:

“It was a very hard decision and I wouldn’t wish anyone to find themselves in this situation … I felt vulnerable, alone and upset. I felt I could contact ASN, that they cared and they were there to support me while in another country and alone … I will forever feel grateful for the help and support I received.”

The "ABC" case was heard on December 9, 2009 before the Grand Chamber of the Court, a 17-judge court reserved to hear cases of special importance touching on the interpretation of the European Human Rights Convention.

The woman known to the court as "A" had children in the care of the state, and thought having another child would jeopardize her chances of being reunited with her kids.

"B", the second applicant, was not prepared to become a single parent.

Woman "C" was in remission from cancer when she became pregnant. Before discovering her pregnancy, pregnant she had a series of procedures, but could not get clear advice about the risks to her health and to the fetus if she continued to term.

These women's rights to control their own bodies, their reproduction and their futures were blocked because of where they happen to live. For women around the globe, geography is destiny.

For more on the situation in Ireland:

Irish Family Planning Association

Bpas Ireland

FPA (Northern Ireland)

For more on the group assisting them: Abortion Support Network

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