The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the rights of a 20-year-old woman were violated when her parents forced her to have an abortion in 2010.
In the case S.F.K. v Russia, the court found that the forced abortion was “an egregious form of inhuman and degrading treatment which had not only resulted in a serious immediate damage to her health – that is the loss of her unborn child – but had also entailed long-lasting negative physical and psychological effects.”
The abortion was carried out in a public hospital despite the woman continuing to make clear to her parents and medical personnel that she wished to keep her baby. At the time, the police did not prosecute the parents because they determined that they were acting in their daughter’s best interest.
The case highlights the rarely talked about fact — that studies show that a significant number of all abortions performed are carried out against the wishes of the woman.
As reported last week, the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) confirmed the horrifying story that a minor in Ireland was recently locked in a room and forced to take abortion pills.
Research conducted recently by Savanta ComRes for BBC Radio 4, revealed that 15% of women in the UK (aged 18-44) said that at some point in their life they experienced pressure to go through with an abortion they didn’t want to have.
We cannot rely on groups like the National Women’s Council to speak up for women who find themselves in these appalling situations. Likewise, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has continued to defend the practice of at home telemedicine abortion despite the HSE admission that “meeting the woman in person increases the likelihood of the provider identifying any coercion or domestic abuse”.
We must continue to exert pressure on the Government to ensure coercive abortion practices are dealt with and brought to an end. The recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights lends considerable weight to these efforts.