17th June 2011

The Government has announced its intention to establish an expert group on abortion in response to last December’s decision of the European Court of Human Rights in A, B and C -v- Ireland. The Government had until 16th June to formally reply to the Council of Europe, giving an outline of how it proposed addressing the issues raised in the Judgement. The Department of Health has confirmed that the Government’s expert group will not be formally established until November at earliest.

Responding to the Government’s decision to set up an expert group on abortion, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said:

“Following the ECHR decision in December, pro-choice groups have sought to blur the distinction between necessary medical treatments in pregnancy and induced abortion, (where the intention of the procedure is to end the life of the baby).

It is vitally important that the expert group keeps in focus the duty of care to both mother and baby during pregnancy and the ethical distinction between medical treatments in pregnancy and induced abortion.

Contrary to the claims of abortion advocates, the European court did not say that Ireland must legislate to provide for abortion here. It called on Ireland to clarify its law on abortion which is an entirely different thing than saying we must legislate for abortion. It is also critically important to remember in this debate that Ireland, without abortion, is listed by the World Health Organisation as the safest country in the world for pregnant women.”

Before the General Election, Fine Gael gave a commitment not to legislate for abortion while the Labour Party stated openly that it would introduce legislation to allow abortions take place in Ireland.

Referring to the pre-election commitments, Dr Cullen said:

“The establishment of the expert group does not preclude an Oireachtas all-party committee from also having an input, in keeping with Fine Gael’s promise before the general election that the abortion issue would be examined in a fully democratic and accountable manner.”