Ireland’s Abortion Laws: legal analyses and model legislation

Congratulations to Maeve Taylor, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer of the Irish Family Planning Association, whose article was recently published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.  An abstract is provided below:

“Women’s Right to Health and Ireland’s Abortion Laws”  International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 130 (2015): 93-97.  online here.

The provision of the Irish Constitution that guarantees “the unborn” a right to life equal to that of a pregnant woman has consequences for access to abortion and the care of women in pregnancy generally. Long-awaited legislation to give effect to the narrow constitutional right to abortion was enacted into law in 2013. In 2014, a guidance document for health professionals’ implementation of the legislation was published. However, the legislation and guidance document fall far short of international human rights bodies’ recommendations: they fail to deliver effective procedural rights to all of the women eligible for lawful abortion within the state and create new legal barriers to women’s reproductive rights. At the same time, cases continue to highlight that the Irish Constitution imposes an unethical and rights-violating legal regime in non-abortion-related contexts. Recent developments suggest that both the failure to put guidelines in place and the development of guidelines that are not centered on women or based on rights further reduce women’s access to rights and set unacceptable limitations on women’s reproductive autonomy. Nevertheless, public and parliamentary scrutiny of cases involving Ireland’s abortion laws is increasingly focusing on the need for reform.

The full text of “Women’s Right to Health and Ireland’s Abortion Laws” is now online here.
Other articles in this “Ethical and Legal Issues” series are online here.


Meanwhile, Máiréad Enright’s group of ten feminist academic lawyers have just published model legislation for Irish abortion law reform, “General Scheme of ‘Access to Abortion Bill 2015′” 32 pages, downloadable here from feminists@law.  This model legislation is intended to regulate abortion in Ireland after the 8th Amendment (1983), a constitutional ban on abortion, is repealed.  The new Bill is defined as: “An Act to respect human life during pregnancy by affirming pregnant women’s constitutional rights; recognising that sustaining embryonic and foetal life in pregnancy is an important social role, which should be voluntary and consensual, and enabling access to abortion, and in respect of related matters.”
Principles underlying the model legislation are explained here.


See also:  “She’s not a criminal: The Impact of Ireland’s Abortion Law” by Christina Zampas, Senior Legal Adviser, Amnesty International.  113 page report.


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