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United Nations highlights the shame of Ireland's harsh abortion laws


"It's clear that this UN Committee has utterly failed to keep up with progressive, modern medicine or with the research that shows that abortion causes significantly more distress and despair to women in these circumstances".

"As a result, women in Northern Ireland are forced to travel to another part of the United Kingdom in order to access the same abortion services as women in the rest of the UK".

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said the proportion of women ending a pregnancy using a medical procedure such as an oral pill, rather than a surgical abortion, has more than doubled over the last decade from 30 per cent in 2006 to 62 per cent in 2016.

"Research reports that while the vast majority of women did not need to contact medical services following taking the abortion pill at home, approximately one in 10 (9.3%) reported to the online provider that they were experiencing a symptom for which they were advised to seek medical advice and 95% sought medical advice as advised", Deely said.

The HSE said the figures compare to 2001 when 6,673 from the Republic had abortions.

In March 2014, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a complaint on behalf of Siobhán Whelan before the UN Human Rights Committee, arguing that Ireland's restrictive abortion laws violated Ms. Whelan's basic human rights by subjecting her to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, interfering with her right to privacy, and discriminating against her on the basis of her gender.

In total, there were 190,406 abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2016, slightly lower than in 2015 (191,014).

However, 10 girls under the age of 16 sought an abortion in the United Kingdom a year ago, as did 56 girls aged 16 or 17 and 174 women aged 18 or 19. "It reflects a failure to offer real choice to women, and a failure to protect the most vulnerable in society whose lives have been ended through abortion".

"If I wanted to end the pregnancy, I would have to travel to another jurisdiction".

Today's ruling concerns Ms Whelan, who was in the 20th week of her second pregnancy in January 2010 when a scan at Wexford General Hospital revealed her baby had a rare congenital brain malformation and would probably die before or very soon after birth.

The UNHRC ruling echoes the decision it made in June 2016 in the case of Amanda Mellet.

"I am very pleased with the decision by the Human Rights Committee and I would like to extend my honest gratitude to the Committee for its recognition of the harm I suffered, and the violation of my human rights, as a result of Ireland's abortion laws". The UN however has no right in the name of human rights to make a value judgment on which lives are valuable and which ones are not. In 2014, the USA -based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a complaint before the UNHRC on behalf of Whelan.

At the time of the Mellet decision, the government cited the work of the Citizens' Assembly in its response to the case.

Hoctor said that, if enacted, this would bring Ireland in line with most other European countries.

The Pro Life Campaign, a prominent pro-life group in Ireland, said today's comments by the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) on Ireland's abortion law show that "fairness and impartiality doesn't even enter the equation when it comes to their deliberations on this issue".

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