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Med Law. 2011 Jun;30(2):267-78.

Access to abortion services: the impact of the European convention on human rights in Ireland.

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  • 1School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland.


Abortion is unlawful in Ireland except where it is necessary to save the life of the mother. The right to life of the unborn child is safeguarded under Article 40.3.3 degrees of Bunreacht na hEireann (the Irish Constitution). In 2003 the European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into Irish domestic legislation, subject to the provisions of the Irish Constitution. The aim of this paper is to consider the potential impact of the ECHR on access to abortion services within the State. This paper commences with discussion of the statutory prohibition on abortion and the Constitutional provisions concerning the protection afforded to the unborn child. It will then be necessary to examine the implications for Ireland of recent European Court of Human Rights' decisions, in particular the recent judgment in A, B & C v Ireland, regarding the right to legal abortions given the unique nature of the legal status of the ECHR and its relationship with the Irish Constitution.

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