The UN Human Rights Committee’s ground-breaking decision that Ireland’s law prohibiting and criminalizing abortion violated the human rights of a woman who had a diagnosis of fatal foetal impairment will advance women’s rights in Ireland and beyond.
The UN Committee’s ruling today said Ireland’s laws prohibiting abortion violated the rights of Amanda Mellet, a dual citizen of Ireland and the USA, as it denied her an abortion despite her receiving a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly in 2011. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee in November 2013 on Ms Mellet’s behalf.
It is the first time that an international human rights body has found a state in violation of its human right obligations for criminalising and prohibiting abortion.
“The ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee is ground breaking for Ireland, and has far reaching global consequences. The prohibition, and by extension criminalisation, of abortion in and of itself has been found to violate human rights. It is discriminatory and subjects women to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Ireland must take heed,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director.
The UN Committee found Ireland’s abortion laws subjected her to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and discrimination, in violation of Articles 7 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also found a violation of Article 17 on the right to privacy. It said that Ireland subjected Ms Mellet to “intense physical and mental suffering.” It also called on Ireland to “amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that health-care providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”