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Europe has no power to change abortion law
Irish Examiner 07/09/2005

by Ann Cahill

THE Government insisted the European Court of Human Rights has no power to change the law on abortion in Ireland in the case of a woman who claims her inability to obtain an abortion here was a breach of her human rights.

The court of seven judges began the hearing on the admissibility and merits of the 44-year-old's case to sue the State yesterday. It will report back in a few months on the tragic case of the woman, known only as D, who was forced to go to Britain to have her twins one dead and one fatally disabled aborted three years ago. The court that sat for just over an hour in Strasbourg hearing legal submissions received written details of the case.

The woman was not present at the hearing as she wishes to remain anonymous. The details were not made public but are believed to show that she took the body of the deformed foetus back to Ireland and buried it secretly. One of the twins was dead having stopped developing at eight weeks but could not have been removed from her womb in Ireland in case it would endanger the life of its twin.

To get the medical aftercare and counselling she required she did not tell her doctor or hospital about the abortion but simply told them she had had a miscarriage. Her lawyer, the well-known London-based human rights barrister Barbara Hewson, told the court the woman's human rights were infringed and she was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by the fact that she could not have an abortion in Ireland or be referred to a clinic by her family doctor.

Representing the State, Senior Counsel Donal O'Donnell, said there was no conflict between Ireland's ban on abortion and the European Convention on Human Rights. There were written statements submitted to the court by the Pro-Life Campaign and the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child. The Irish Family Planning Association was also present. They have launched a campaign to have the abortion laws changed.