Cork Women's Right to Choose has written a letter to local TDs, Senators, City and County Councillors, and Ireland South MEPs urging them to support the women whose case is being heard in the European Court of Human Rights tomorrow, Wednesday 9th December 2009. We urge you to do the same. Please contact your local representatives, the newspapers, radio stations, and your friends and family and get them to support these courageous women taking their historic case. We cannot be silent any longer - the Irish government must end decades of hypocrisy and legalise abortion now!
Text of the letter:
Cork Women's Right to Choose Group are writing to ask you to give your public support to the three women whose courageous legal challenge to Ireland's abortion ban will be heard in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg this Wednesday, 9th December 2009. Seventeen judges will hear the cases of these women, identified only as A, B and C, all of whom were forced to go abroad to terminate their pregnancies. A, B, and C will argue that restrictive Irish laws jeopardised their health and well-being and breached their human rights. As a signatory to the Convention, the Irish Government is obliged to take measures to implement whatever decisions are made by the Court.
The Irish government's failure to deal with this issue is now being exposed to international scrutiny. In almost two decades since the X case ruling, successive governments have failed either to legislate or provide guidelines on when an abortion may be performed, even to save a woman’s life. On the contrary, they have tried not only to roll back that judgement but also to ensure that women whose pregnancy threatens their health will be unable to have terminations. This will ultimately be recognized for what is: an abuse of women and a denial of their human right to life and health.
Recent polls show increasing public desire for change. A 2004 Crisis Pregnancy agency study found that 90% of 18-45 year olds support abortion in certain circumstances, with 51% stating that women should always have to right to choose an abortion. A 2007 Irish Times Behaviour and Attitudes Poll found that 54% of women believe the Government should act to permit abortion.
The failure of the state to act with women’s rights and interests at heart has left the applicants in this week’s Strasbourg cases little option but to take the international route to achieve justice for themselves. Hopefully the outcome will be the protection of the lives and health of women resident in Ireland in the future. It isn’t acceptable any more to turn a blind eye and hope Britain will deal with this issue for us. We have tolerated a two-tier system where women with money could travel and pay the €1,000 or so cost if they had health or other problems. As lawyer Catherine Forde put it, women are forced to scurry abroad like criminals. Over decades this has cost women dearly in stress and brought a range of health risks, for example from late abortion when it has taken time to get the funds together.
It is time to say enough - and change our law. Women should not have to expose the most intimate details of their pregnancies and lives in court or have to rely on judges to make decisions about their lives and health. We call on you to support this historic legal challenge. The Irish public will not tolerate the continued violation of women's health and human rights.
Cork Women's Right to Choose Group