Miss D Ruling highlights need for new legislation
9 May 2007
Congress has welcomed today's High Court ruling in the Miss D case as one which "acknowledges and faces up to the reality of women's lives today."
Speaking after the ruling was delivered, Esther Lynch, Congress Legislative Affairs Officer said: "It is now imperative that whatever government is returned after May 24, it makes the introduction of new legislation in this area a key priority. This is required in order to end the existing legal uncertainty and to ensure we do not see another woman forced into this dreadful situation. Indeed, it is the failure of successive governments to deal with this issue that has led to this situation unfolding."
Ms Lynch went on to point out that the outcome of this case confirms the position adopted by Congress, on foot of the C case (A and B v. Eastern Health Board, Mary Fahy, C and the Attorney General, High Court November 1997) which emphasised the necessity for the provision in legislation of a guarantee that all women would be able to exercise their right to travel to obtain terminations abroad, and where appropriate, with the assistance of State agencies.
"In addition," Ms Lynch said, "today's decision underlines the need for legislation that specifies clearly and unambiguously the medical circumstances in which an abortion should be permitted as well as clarifying the decision making process that would be involved. Its worth noting, in a European context, that nearly every state permits abortion in cases of foetal abnormality. At the moment, we have a two-tier system where those who cannot afford to travel are denied access to terminations that the better off have.
"Legislation is urgently required, the next Government needs to ensure that women are respected as equal members of society and that the rights of women including to health, travel and autonomy as well established principles of international human rights law are legislated for. The vindication of these rights of women and the achievement of substantive equality require no less from our politicians."