Friday, December 17, 2010

ECHR vs Ireland

Yesterday the ECHR returned a judgment against Ireland on that old issue, abortion. Without going into great detail, mainly because I'm not a lawyer, the court upheld the position of the Irish courts where they said that legislation was required to clarify when abortion is legal in Ireland. The problems arose due to the X case in the early 90s and more recently with the C case.

Personally, I am in favour of a pretty open abortion policy, pretty much on demand up to 24 weeks. It's not like abortions will be made compulsory, those who object on moral grounds can choose to have as many children as they want. If a woman who finds herself pregnant really doesn't want to have a child is it better to follow through with the termination or bring an unwanted child into the world? There are already enough children in poverty, neglected or in state care in this country.

The main downside of this decision is that it brings abortion right back to the front of politics in Ireland. With an election looming, the last thing that we need is for SPUC and Youth Defence to hijack the election. The election has to be about financial issues and political reform and so any focus on abortion is just going to be a distraction. Of course attitudes in Ireland on the substantive issue have softened and the Pro Life campaign might find their message not being so warmly received, especially in the under-40 category.

The other issue is that it will bring the anti-EU and anti-Lisbon people back into play pointing out how this is just Europe sticking their nose into an internal matters and that we had guarantees on abortion. This neatly ignores the facts that the ECHR has nothing to do with the EU and that the ECHR is just reinforcing the judgments of Irish courts.

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