In Europe, Ireland is a symbol of resistance against abortion. Nevertheless, Ireland is on the point of giving in to the concerted pressure of the Council of Europe and the pro-abortion lobbies.
Irish people have always been firmly opposed to abortion. Since the 1980s, they have rejected the legalization of abortion three times, while affording equal constitutional protection to the life of the unborn child and that of the mother. Abortion is therefore always prohibited, except when doctors consider it necessary to save the life of the mother.
However, the Council of Europe is at the heart of a campaign aiming to impose abortion ‘from the top’ onto people who refused it ‘from the bottom’ three times, by referendums in 1983, 1992 and 2002.
It is to be noted that the Council of Europe was created to defend democracy and human rights. The European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe. Its role is to ensure the observance, by member States, of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. States should abide by the judgments decided against them by the Court.
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Thus, abortion is not imposed directly on Ireland and Poland, but by the peripheral way of the procedural obligations which guarantee not a substantial right to abortion, but a procedural right of knowing whether one fulfils the right to access to an abortion. This procedural approach obliges Ireland only to ‘clarify’ the concrete conditions of access to abortion; in actual practice, however, it goes far beyond that obligation. This result is achieved while recognizing the absence of a right to abortion under the European Convention on Human Rights, and without its being necessary for the Court to comment on the prohibition in principle of abortion in Irish law. In order to impose this procedural obligation, it suffices to affirm, starting from an exception from the prohibition on the ground of danger to the life of the mother, that there is a ‘right’ to abortion and that this ‘right’ falls within the scope of the Convention.