HANDS OFF OUR ABORTION LAW; Three Women Take Ireland to Court: Lawyers Defend Termination Ruling

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Byline: SARAH BARDON

IRELAND defended its abortion law at the European Court of Human Rights yesterday, countering a legal challenge by three women who said it endangered their health and violated their rights.

The women, two Irish and one Lithuanian living in Ireland, had travelled to Britain to have abortions as it is banned here unless the mother's life is in danger.

They argued that they had to terminate their pregnancies due to medical and social problems, and that being forced to travel abroad for abortions meant submitting to inhumane treatment which violated their right to privacy.

They also said the law constituted gender-based discrimination.

But attorney general, Paul Gallagher, said the legal action undermined the court's principles. He said: "For 50 years this court has recognised the diversity of cultures and traditions in Europe.

"It has recognised that a foetus has a right to protection by the Convention of Human Rights."

He also reminded the court that Ireland had made maintaining the abortion law a condition for holding a second referendum on the European Union's reform accord, the Lisbon Treaty, and had been granted appropriate guarantees by its EU partners. …