The Guardian: Irish abortion ban case taken to UN Human Rights Committee

Henry McDonald

Ireland's continued ban on most abortions has come under attack nationally and internationally, with campaigners calling for a referendum on termination rights, and UN intervention.

Last week Amanda Mellet became the first of three women to formally ask the UN to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as "cruel and inhumane". She has risked opprobrium in Ireland for speaking out about having a termination in England because her baby would have been born dead.

Backed by an international pro-choice campaign group, Mellet wants the UN to rule that Ireland's ban in such incidences is akin to torture.

Her case highlights the fact that despite allowing for limited terminations, recent abortion law reforms do not cover the majority of Irish women who travel to Britain to end crisis pregnancies.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, passed by the Irish parliament in July, only allows for terminations when there is a direct threat to the life of the mother, or where there is a clear suicide risk.

A group of pro-choice doctors in the Republic have written to the commission examining how to reform the Irish constitution, urging it to repeal a 30-year-old amendment which effectively turns a one-day embryo into an Irish citizen.

Doctors for Choice has told the Constitutional Convention that article 40.3.3 "is at odds with medical professional opinion on abortion".

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