It's Time to Legislate for the X-Case We believe that the issue of abortion in Ireland must be addressed politically, and no longer swept under the carpet. We call upon the Government to: A. Introduce immediate legislation to make provision for abortion in Ireland in cases where there is a substantial risk to the life of the woman, including risk of suicide, as upheld by the 'X' case ruling. B. Ensure that abortion is provided for in such cases. C. Address the issue of abortion in the longer term, leading to the repeal of anti-abortion legislation and Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution (Anti-Choice amendment). D. Ensure that any abortion provision in Ireland is accessible to all women on an equitable basis.
Travelling abroad should not be the only choice
The 'X', 'C' and 'D' Cases - Background In 1992, a 14 year old girl was raped by the father of her friend and as a result of this rape became pregnant. Her parents, seeing the amount of distress this was causing their daughter, travelled to the UK with their daughter to terminate this pregnancy. They were trying to relieve the incredible distress that their daughter was in. While in the UK the girl's parents asked if DNA evidence from the foetus could be used as evidence against the man who raped her. Rather than answering this query the then attorney general took out an injunction under the 8th amendment which demanded the girl and her parents return immediately to Ireland. The girl was banned from leaving the country for nine months to ensure she carried her rapist's child to term. When people heard this story the nation was convulsed. People were appalled that a young girl in such appalling circumstances was being forced to continue her pregnancy. Thousands of ordinary people took to the streets and following huge public pressure the High Court injunction was appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned it by a majority of four to one. The court ruled that a woman had a right to an abortion under Article 40.3.3, the 8th amendment, if there was "a real and substantial risk" to her life. They ruled that this risk included the risk of suicide. The Supreme Court specifically rejected the argument that the mother’s life was only to be protected when the risk to her life was “immediate and inevitable” as argued by the government. In 1997, a 13 year old girl, who was pregnant as a result of a rape was taken into the care of the health board and she successfully defeated a challenge by her parents to the right of the health board to arrange for her to travel for an abortion but the High Court held that there was no right to travel for an abortion other than where there was a risk to the life of the mother (the “C case”). In 2007 a 17 year old teenager (“Miss D”) with an anencephalic, non viable foetus, successfully challenged the HSE in the High Court to make them allow her to travel for an abortion.
18 years later - We need action now On each occasion above, the Courts have castigated the government for failing to pass legislation to implement the 8th Amendment, pushing the responsibility on to the Courts. Twice the Government has sought to overturn these rulings: in 1992 and again in 2002. Twice the nation has refused to remove the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion. This February, 18 years will have passed since the 14 year old girl in the X case was dragged through the courts so that she could access a termination that would save her life. Eight years have passed since the last time the Irish people told the government that they believed women should have the right to an abortion if their life is in jeopardy. Too long has passed, it is time to legislate for the X case and to allow women access to life saving abortions.
Issued by Labour Equality, Labour Women and Labour Youth