Youth Defence panic as ABC case result expected from European courts

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The anti-woman, anti-choice group Youth Defence have launched a new advertising campaign which includes targetted Facebook ads ahead of the anticipated ABC decision in the European courts.  In this case three women, known as A, B and C, are challenging Ireland’s ban on abortion in the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the law jeopardised their health and their well being and that travelling abroad for an abortion placed "enormous physical, emotional and financial burdens" upon them. Because the law created delays and hardships for each woman, it resulted in each of them having a later abortion, creating a greater risk to their health. 

All three women were forced to travel to Britain for an abortion because abortion is unavailable in Ireland in almost all circumstances.  One of the three had been warned she ran the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. The second had undergone chemotherapy for cancer treatment and was unable to find a doctor willing to tell her if her life would be at risk if she continued to term or how the treatment might have effected the fetus.  The third woman was an unemployed alcoholic living in poverty whose four children had been placed in foster care.

Youth Defence’s cynical Facebook ad shows a dark picture of a pained women with the slogan 'My baby’s death was not an abortion.' According to Choice Ireland the newspaper ads attempt to distinguish between abortions and “necessary medical  procedures” that result in termination of pregnancies. The adverts claim that where a woman is treated for a condition such as ectopic pregnancy or pre-eclampsia and her foetus dies, this is not an abortion.

Sinéad Ahern of Choice Ireland said, “Having lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Irish people, who overwhelmingly reject their opposition to abortion under any circumstances, Youth Defence are now trying to start a war with the English language. Their attempts to redefine ‘abortion’ to exclude those procedures which the Supreme Court has ruled are permitted under the 8th amendment puts them at odds with standard medical terminology – which defines abortion simply as the loss of a pregnancy – and even with many of their colleagues in the anti-abortion movement, who distinguish between ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ abortions.

“The ad goes on to claim that such procedures can be freely carried out in Ireland. However, in its testimony to the European Court of Human Rights in the ABC case, the Irish government could provide no evidence that any had taken place within the state. In its recent investigation into the effects of Irish abortion law, Human Rights Watch were also unable to document a single case. A number of doctors and women, including two of the plaintiffs in the ABC case, have confirmed that some pregnant women are being denied needed medical treatment because of the uncertainty in the law.”

“The timing of this ad, so close to the anticipated ABC decision, is no coincidence. It is clearly a pre-emptive strike against a ruling that Youth Defence expect to go against them. That they felt the need to take such a step demonstrates the strength of the case the three women have made against the Irish state.”

“Just as abortion cannot be legislated away, neither can its realities be erased through semantic games of the kind Youth Defence are playing. Whether they choose to call it ‘indirect abortion’, ‘necessary medical procedures’ or something else entirely, the facts are that there are times when a pregnancy must be terminated to save a woman’s life and that the lack of legislation in this area has a chilling effect on doctors and potentially tragic consequences for women. Choice Ireland again call for legislation for the X case as a first step toward safeguarding women’s lives and reproductive rights.”

WORDS: Andrew

Read more of the History of the struggle for abortion rights in Ireland

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