Saturday 24 March 2018

Watchdog hits out at 'abortion barriers' in report to the UN

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Ireland's independent human rights watchdog has criticised the country's abortion laws, saying they impede a woman's right to bodily autonomy.

A report by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) said the State needed to revise abortion legislation in line with international human rights standards. It urged the Citizens' Assembly to consider UN recommendations on holding a referendum and changing legislation.

The intervention in the abortion debate came in a report, published today, which will feed into a UN study on Ireland's performance on gender equality. 'Ireland and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women' will be presented to the UN in Geneva next week by IHREC chief commissioner Emily Logan.

It calls for a referendum to amend the Constitution to provide an explicit provision on gender equality and for the use of gender-neutral language throughout the text.

It says Article 41.2 of the Constitution stereotypes women as it presumes they occupy primary carer roles within the home.

The report outlines several areas in Irish life where women are disadvantaged, including over pay and pensions. It also found State funding for women's organisation was cut by 48.7pc between 2008 and 2014.

On abortion, it recommended the Citizens' Assembly should take into consideration the findings of UN monitoring bodies.

One of these bodies recommended Ireland hold a referendum on abortion and revise legislation.

Another UN committee urged the decriminalisation of abortion and a review of legislation to ensure children who become pregnant can get access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services. The IHREC report said it was concerned laws on abortion "place barriers which impede a woman's right to bodily autonomy".

The report also examined the use of gender quotas for general elections and argued they should be replicated at local authority level.

Irish Independent

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