herald

Thursday 10 July 2014

30 years ... still no legislation

1983: After a bitter campaign, the right to life of the unborn is explicitly acknowledged in the eighth amendment to the Constitution.

1992: A 14-year-old girl becomes pregnant after being raped. She and her parents decide to travel to the UK for an abortion and ask the gardai whether the foetus could be tested to provide proof of paternity.

The Attorney General obtains an injunction stopping the teen and her parents from leaving Ireland or arranging the termination. In what became known as the X case, the High Court ruled the girl could not leave Ireland for nine months, but this was overturned by the Supreme Court in an appeal which centred on the right to life of the mother as she may take her own life if the pregnancy was not terminated.

She was permitted to travel to England for an abortion.

In November 1992, after the X case judgement, the Government puts forward three possible amendments to the Constitution in a referendum. The freedom to travel for an abortion is passed, as is the freedom to obtain or make available information on abortion services outside the State, subject to conditions. But an amendment to remove suicide as a grounds for abortion is rejected.

1995: The Regulation of Information Act 1995 is enacted allowing for the giving of information on abortions abroad if a woman requests it.

1997: The C case. A 13-year-old girl is raped and becomes pregnant. The Eastern Health Board takes C into care and, in accordance with the girl's wishes, obtains orders from the District Court to take C abroad for an abortion.

C's parents mount a challenge in the High Court. It rules as C was likely to take her own life if forced to have the baby, she was entitled to an abortion in Ireland by virtue of the Supreme Court judgement in the X case.

2000: All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, chaired by Brian Lenihan, publishes its Fifth Progress Report: Abortion, a 700-page report.

2001: The Crisis Pregnancy Agency is set up.

2002: Irish voters reject the 25th Amendment of the Constitution which would have removed the threat of suicide as a grounds for legal abortion, as well as introducing new penalties for anyone performing an abortion.

2010: EU Court of Human Rights rules Ireland's failure to implement the existing constitutional right to a lawful abortion in Ireland when a woman's life is at risk violate's applicant C's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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