The UN Human Rights committee today released its verdict on Ireland’s stance on abortion and the investigations into abuse of mothers and children at Church run homes.
They remained highly critical of the law on abortion, stating that Ireland must revise it to include provisions for rape, risk of health to the mother, foetal abnormality in fatal cases and incest.
Last year, the Irish government voted to introduce limited access to abortion in cases when a woman’s life is in danger, but the provisions do not do enough according to the Human Rights committee.
“The Committee reiterates its previous concern regarding the highly restrictive circumstances under which women can lawfully have an abortion in the state,” it said.
There were months of protests and division in public opinion on the decision to effectively legalise abortion in certain cases, and the Irish government says that a referendum would be necessary if the law is to be amended further.
The UN also said that there was cause for concern over the delays and allegations of lack of comprehension into previous investigations into mistreatment of those who spent time in state-funded Catholic homes.
It comes following heightened campaigning to hold a public investigation into the matter after unmarked graves of up to 800 babies were discovered in Tuam earlier this year.
The Committee also urged more thorough investigation into cases of symphysiotomy – a medical childbirth method in which a woman’s pelvis was broken – that were performed on about 1,500 women between 1944 and 1987 without informed consent. The procedure left some with long-term physical and mental issues.
Campaign groups are due to respond to the statement this afternoon, as have accused the Irish government of abandoning a human rights concept when approaching these matters in the past as out of touch with UN regulations.