The Center for Reproductve Rights worked for several years to support the efforts of women and civil society organizations in Ireland to secure reform of Ireland’s highly restrictive abortion law. Their decades of efforts culminated in 2018 when the Irish electorate voted by a resounding majority to remove the prohibition on abortion and Irish law on abortion underwent significant reform. Over a number of years we worked closely with civil society organizations in Ireland to share analysis and recommendations from comparative legal frameworks, international human rights law and public health evidence with key stakeholders.
In addition, we represented Amanda Mellet and Siobhán Whelan in their seminal complaints against Ireland before the UN Human Rights Committee. Both women were denied access to abortion in Ireland as a result of the legal prohibition on abortion, and as a result were forced to travel out of the country to obtain abortion care.
In groundbreaking rulings in 2016 and 2017 the Committee held that Ireland’s prohibition on abortion had subjected them to cruel and inhuman treatment, and had violated their rights to privacy and equality before the law. The Committee directed Ireland to provide each woman with effective remedies and to reform its law on abortion. Following the rulings, Ireland paid compensation to the women, the Minister for Health apologized to them for the violations they had endured, and the Committee’s landmark rulings were identified as one of three critical reason why constitutional reform on abortion was necessary.
Read about these two landmark cases here:
Mellet v. Ireland, 2016; Whelan v. Ireland, 2017, United Nations Human Rights Committee