By dodging the question of the morality of the abortion and focusing exclusively on the law – and in particular on a particular legal regime involving punishing women – people who talk about ‘forced pregnancy’ are subtly but effectively shifting the ground onto territory that favours them at the expense of having a conversation about the central issue: is abortion right or wrong? Everything else, including your attitude to the law, should be discussed once you’ve decided what you think on that critical question.
Following this evening’s debate, kindly organised by TCDSU, we want to look at a few claims about whether pro-life laws work or not.
The Eighth Amendment provides for only one right: the right of the unborn child to be born alive. It does not provide for a right to be born safely. We believe that the Eighth is being used as a scapegoat and a means for doctors to use methods, such as Active Management of Labour, that suit them and their hospitals the most.
For the time being, it seems that caution in relation to the Assembly is well-placed. The Citizens’ Assembly in and of itself cannot be interpreted as representing the will of the Irish people or as portraying an accurate idea of what the Eighth Amendment is about, and its terms should not provide the framework for any future legislation drafted by the Oireachtas.
This is the third part in a series focused on Ireland, the United Nations and abortion, explaining why the pro-choice argument that international law requires Ireland to introduce abortion is based on an incorrect interpretation of that international law. In previous posts, we have discussed the work of the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and the role of customary international law.
Our previous post on this topic discussed the less-than-respectable qualifications of the UN Human Rights Committee, ending with the question as to whether, even if the HRC is a complete mess of an institution, it still got it right on the Irish abortion question. It didn’t. One reason for this relates to the sources of international law.
The HRC has arrived at some well-reasoned views, but also some pretty dreadful ones: the string of Jamaican death row cases are good examples, as is the Libyan debacle. In 1995, Libya entered a short and dishonest report on its ICCPR progress, just after the dictator Mu’ammer Gaddafi had ordered the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad. The HRC issued its verdict three years later, complimenting Libya on its treatment of women and expressing only polite concern at the murder and torture of the regime’s opponents and at the complete lack of an independent legal system.