The European Court of Human Rights seems to think that abortion is a human right.
From The Catholic Herald:
European court rules that Ireland’s abortion laws breach human rights
By Michael Kelly on Thursday, 16 December 2010
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Ireland’s laws banning abortion breach European human rights law.
In a landmark and binding case [It is unclear to me how this ruling can be "binding". Perhaps Europeans can explain that.] that could have implications for other European countries, the court ruled that Ireland had breached the human rights of a woman with a rare form of cancer who feared it would relapse if she became unintentionally pregnant.
But the woman was unable to find a doctor willing to judge whether her life would be at risk if she continued her pregnancy to term. [Did that violate a human right? That she couldn't find a doctor who would say that? She has the right to a doctor who will tell her what she wants to hear?]
The court concluded today that neither the “medical consultation nor litigation options” relied on by the government constituted an effective or accessible procedure.
“Moreover, there was no explanation why the existing constitution right had not been implemented to date,” the court ruled.
While abortion remains a criminal offence under 1861 legislation, a technical constitutional right to abortion does exist in Ireland following a 1992 Supreme Court ruling. In a controversial judgment known as the “X case”, the court established the right of Irish women to an abortion if a pregnant woman’s life was at risk as a result of the pregnancy.
However, successive governments have not legislated on the issue, and several constitutional referenda variously aimed at either enacting or revoking the judgment have proved inconclusive.
Guidelines from the Irish Medical Council describe abortion as “professional misconduct”.
The European court case was filed in 2005. In 2009 it had an oral hearing before the court’s grand chamber. This 17-judge court is reserved to hear cases that raise serious questions affecting the interpretation of the European Convention of Human Rights. As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – now incorporated into Irish law – the government is obliged to remedy any breaches of the convention.
Ireland and Malta are the only member-states of the Council of Europe in which abortion remains illegal.
You can read the rest there.