UN: Irish abortion law treats women as ‘vessels’

Irish abortion law treats women as a vessel and nothing more, the UN’s human rights committee chair and former UN special rapporteur on torture told the Government.

Frances Fitzgerald: Was in Geneva for the hearing.

The State was forced to apologise and withdraw remarks suggesting human rights could be limited or withdrawn if this was sought by a majority of people, when addressing the abortion issue.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was in Geneva with a team of civil servants giving an account of how Ireland was meeting the demands of the UN’s human rights covenant.

But the committee accused the State of failing to take responsibility for what it suggested amounted to crimes against women and children. They named the Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes, child abuse, and symphysiotomy, as “quite a collection,” and one that had continued for a length of time “that it’s hard to imagine any state party tolerating”.

The State had concentrated on material redress rather than taking responsibility for its failures, said the UN’s human rights committee chair Nigel Rodley in an excoriating summing-up that focused on symphysiotomy and abortion.

He blamed the Catholic Church’s historical perspective on women, which dominated the State, referring to it as “the institutional belief system”.

But he also accused the law on abortion as treating women “as a vessel and nothing more”, referring to the ban on abortion for a person who has been raped.

He also accused anti-abortion groups who addressed the committee of “breathtaking arrogance” about the meaning of the right to life in the UN’s covenant.

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties said they wholeheartedly endorsed his comments, which were also welcomed by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Designate.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

Related Articles

More in this Section

Discovery paves way for multiple sclerosis treatments

Kathleen Lynch to contest next election despite ‘bruising’ defeat

Gardaí to seek more terrorism training

Up to two consultants a month quit


Breaking Stories

Gardaí search for teenage boy missing since Saturday

British MP says Catholics in the North 'urged direct rule' weeks ago

Pregnant woman aged 20 died of 'extraordinarily rare, catastrophic cascade of events'

Court takes 3-and-a-half hours to select jury for trial of men accused of Joan Burton's false imprisonment

Lifestyle

Speaking up on mental health to challenge the stigma of schizophrenia

Prine Harry opens up about pain following his mother's death

Vandalism of landscape and natural history

5 things to do this week

More From The Irish Examiner