UN Committee calls for Ireland to decriminalise abortion

The following is from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child “Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth period reports of Ireland”

Adolescent health

1.    The Committee is concerned about the “The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act” of 2014 which only allows for abortion when there is a “real and substantial risk” to the life of the mother and criminalises abortion even in instances where the pregnancy results from rape, incest, or in cases of severe foetal impairment. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the term “real and substantial risk” prevents doctors from being able to provide services in accordance with objective medical practice. The Committee is also concerned at the severe lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education and emergency contraception for adolescents.

2.    In the light of its general comment No. 4 (2003) on adolescent health, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a)     Decriminalise abortion in all circumstances and review its legislation with a view to ensuring children’s access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services; and ensure that the views of the pregnant girl are always heard and respected in abortion decisions;

(b)    Develop and implement a policy to protect the rights of pregnant teenagers, adolescent mothers and their children and combat discrimination against them;

(c)     Adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum and targeted at adolescent girls and boys, with special attention on preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; and,

(d)    Take measures to raise awareness of and foster responsible parenthood and sexual behaviour, with particular attention to boys and men.


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