No need to change the constitution to allow for terminations where there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

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Health, Women's Rights

There are many cases of fatal foetal abnormality. We know there are enough for a Liverpool hospital to make special provision for Irish women in these circumstances. The current regime deprives women of a full consultation with their medical practitioners in Ireland.   Those women who decide to travel they have to locate a hospital in another jurisdiction that will treat them.  90% of the Irish population support the right to terminations in instances of fatal foetal abnormality.

The case of D v Ireland highlighted the inappropriate nature of Irish abortion laws.  D was pregnant with twins one of which had stopped developing after eight weeks the other had a severe chromosomal abnormality which meant the child would not survive.  She terminated her pregnancy outside of the jurisdiction and took a case to the European Courts arguing that the failure to provide abortion services in the jurisdiction in a case of lethal foetal abnormality amounted to a failure to ensure that she was not subjected to ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ under article 3.  She argued that she was discriminated against as a pregnant woman carrying a foetus with a lethal abnormality as any other person would not have “encountered such difficulties in obtaining medical care and advice.”

There is no need to repeal the 8th Amendment. The Irish governments own argument in D v Ireland at the European Court of Human Rights 2006 bear this out, where the court found:

“There was ‘at least a tenable’ argument which would be seriously considered by the domestic courts to the effect that the foetus was not an ‘unborn’ for the purposes of Article 40.3.3 or that, even if it was an ‘unborn’, its right to life was not actually engaged as it had no prospect of life outside the womb.”

It was on these grounds, argued by the Irish government – that an Irish court might rule that a woman should not be denied the right to abortion in D’s circumstances – that the European Court of Human Rights dismissed Deirdre Conroy’s case: she had not exhausted all domestic avenues.

Thus the Irish government’s argument in D v Ireland was that termination on grounds of fatal foetal abnormality was constitutionally permissible.

Alex White and Alan Shatter must stop hiding behind the unpublished opinion of the Attorney General.  Publish the Attorney General’s opinion – which is disputed by other legal experts and by the legal arguments of the previous Irish government – including presumably, the Attorney General of the time. Reilly’s Act can be amended to permit terminations on grounds of fatal foetal abnormality.

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  1. Fatal Foetal Abnormality and the Eighth Amendment | Random Public Journal
    […] its right to life may be presumed unengaged as it has no real prospect of life outside the womb.…