Ireland criticized by UN for its “very restrictive” abortion policies

A UN Committee has said today that Ireland must review its “very restrictive” abortion laws . The Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), based in Geneva, also sought clarification from the state on what abortion legislation would look like.

However, the state delegation, led by Ireland’s ambassador to the UN, Patricia O’Brien, offered little clarity on what the next steps would be following the Citizen’s Assembly’s report. The Government delegation was also questioned on a number of women’s rights issues such as symphysiotomy, Traveller rights, the protection of sex workers and the legacy issue of Magdalene laundries.

Ailbhe Smyth,  of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, said: “At today’s hearing the Irish Government made no commitment to calling a referendum, and also failed to clarify how they would deal with the provision of abortion services in the event of repeal of the Eighth Amendment.  Their policy of waiting to see what results from the Citizens’ Assembly shows that the Government has no firm commitment to dealing with this issue.

Reacting to the UN’s comments , Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Sinéad Slattery stated this evening: “It is unacceptable for the CEDAW Committee to act as if it can ignore the Irish debate and look for confirmation from the Government that a referendum will be held on the Eighth Amendment.  Its comments today are undermining of Irish democracy and completely disregard the fact that a majority of the Irish people voted to acknowledge the right to life of unborn children in our Constitution.  Any attempt to remove that right would discriminate against these babies, and place them in the position of second class citizens.”


The Committee’s concluding observations will be released on 6th March.

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