By Susan Gately - 16 February, 2017
The Pro Life Campaign (PLC) has appealed to the Irish government to present the “positive side of the Eighth Amendment” to a UN Committee.
Yesterday, representatives of the Irish government were in Geneva with the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which considered issues relating to discrimination against women (such as equal pay and increasing the numbers of women in politics), female poverty and social exclusion, and abortion.
The National Women’s Council, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (a semi-public administrative body which receives financial support from the government) and other civic groups had made submissions to the Committee.
In its statement, for example, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission expressed its concerns about “the current legal position in relation to abortion” which it said put in place “barriers which impede a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and have a disproportionate negative impact on women from lower socio-economic backgrounds and women who are seeking asylum or migrant women where their immigration status prevents them from travelling.”
It also called on the State to hold a referendum on Article 41.2 of the Constitution of Ireland (recognising the role of women in the home), which it said perpetuated “gender stereotypes”.
Earlier in the week, the National Women’s Council said it needed “the Irish Government to commit to a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment”.
Speaking from Geneva, Sinéad Slattery from the PLC said the purpose of the CEDAW was to “eliminate discrimination against women in any form”.
She said “Abortion is, by its very nature, discriminatory as it allows some human beings to be given lesser protection under the law. The practice of sex-selection abortions has also led to widespread discrimination against baby girls in particular and efforts to outlaw this practice have been opposed by abortion providers such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.”
Ms Slattery said that Ireland has “no case to answer” in relation to abortion laws. “An independent report commissioned by the PLC shows that there are tens of thousands of people alive in Ireland today thanks to the Eighth Amendment.”
It is imperative that the Government present this very positive side of the Eighth Amendment, and that they highlight the families who say that their children are alive as a direct result of our life-saving laws, she said.
The UN Committee heard all the submissions and comments from the government yesterday. Afterwards, the members of the Committee met in private to discuss what they had heard. Their report back to the government will be communicated in due course.
The PLC said it would not be surprised if the UN Committee were to be critical of Ireland’s pro life laws. “The pattern for UN committees of this nature is to castigate countries like Ireland which uphold the right to life, and to ignore the human rights abuses that occur in countries where abortion has become accepted.”
Such abuses included babies being born alive in so-called ‘botched abortions’ and then being left alone to die, and the fact that women who suffered from abortion regret were discriminated against by abortion advocates internationally who ignored their pain and grief over the loss of their child.