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Irish Government Rejects UN Pressure to Legalize Abortion

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Editor’s note. This analysis was provided by the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI)

The Irish government again rejected pressure from the United Nations to legalize abortion and informed the human rights body that Ireland will not legalize abortion as recommended by six member States: Spain, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia. The hearing was part of the official UN follow-up to the October 2011 review of Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and had added significance as Ireland seeks to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Ireland’s insistence on its pro-life position and rejection of the legalization of abortion was a major point of contention for pro-abortion activists. Non-binding state recommendations had urged Ireland to enact changes in law and policy to allow access to abortion in violation of the Irish constitution.

The Irish government presented a written report that confirmed its rejection of all calls to legalize abortion. Ireland’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Gerard Corr, added that Ireland’s Minister of Justice Alan Shatter had established an expert group to study abortion and is expected to report its findings in July. In rejecting the UN recommendations, Ireland stood by its sovereign right to make its own laws and uphold its constitutional protection for unborn children while assisting mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.

The Pro Life Campaign (PLC) in Ireland applauded the government’s decision: “Calls for abortion legislation fly in the face of the United Nation’s own recent research showing that Ireland, without abortion, is a world leader in terms of safety for women in pregnancy. Maternal safety in Ireland, it should be noted, is better than in the six countries which last year sought to put pressure on Ireland to introduce abortion. The latest UN study on maternal mortality, published in 2010, shows that out of 172 countries for which estimates are given, Ireland remains a world leader in safety for pregnant women,” said PLC spokeswoman Dr Ruth Cullen.

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) responded that the will of the Irish people had been expressed in a number of referendums which rejected abortion and that the Irish Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights support Ireland’s protection of unborn children. Pro-abortion activists expressed shock that Ireland would reject recommendations from six countries.

PNCI noted this past September that the UN Committee against Torture had also urged Ireland to broaden access to abortion despite the fact that the Irish constitution protects the right to life of unborn children and states: “…acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The Irish government’s commitment to its sovereign pro-life position should be an encouragement to other states to stand up to UN entities and maintain their laws that prohibit or restrict abortion. It is also evidence of the pro-abortion mindset rampant at the United Nations that dares to pressure the country with the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world to legalize abortion. The false argument that legal abortion is needed to reduce maternal deaths cannot be used against Ireland but pressure to legalize abortion continues unabatedly.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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