On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Why didn’t Irish voters have to consider a ballot item legalizing abortion last week?


Because in a landmark decision, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the European Convention on Human Rights does not contain a general right to abortion.


That means Ireland can quit worrying about being forced to legalize abortion just because they’re a member of the European Union.


In a decision that had been dubbed the “Roe v. Wade of Europe,” the ruling was a substantial victory for abortion opponents. The ruling stymies any claim that abortion is a universally-recognized right.


In November, 2008, a number of Christian groups including the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defense Fund, the European Centre for Law and Justice, and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children filed an amicus brief supporting Ireland’s position that membership in the EU did not force the island nation to legalize abortion on demand.


“Europe’s highest court has sent a very welcome message not only to its constituent countries but to the world at large that the so-called ‘right to an abortion’ is neither fundamental nor recognized worldwide, as abortion advocates would suggest,” noted Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “We are thankful that the European Court on Human Rights stood by the right of a nation to define its own laws, and also that the court stood by the life of the unborn.


“The result of Europe’s ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision reaffirmed that it is up to nations to define their own laws, and that a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body does not extend to a right to terminate a life she is carrying.”


The Court did rule that Ireland had not provided proper procedures pursuant to Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution whereby a lifesaving abortion could be. This procedural failure was deemed to violate European Union laws.


Just days before the Irish elections, the main opposition party in Ireland, Fine Gael, released a strong statement opposing abortion – mirroring statements by the ruling party Fianna Fáil.


“Fine Gael is opposed to the legalization of abortion,” declared the opposition party in a statement. It went on to make “a clear commitment that women in pregnancy will receive whatever treatments are necessary to safeguard their lives, and that the duty of care to preserve the life of the baby will also be upheld.


“Fine Gael is opposed to research conducted on human embryos, and favors alternative stem cell research that does not involve human embryos such as adult stem cell and umbilical cord research,” read the statement.


Fianna Fáil, the majority party in Ireland’s parliament has also come out strongly in favor of continuing the Irish ban on abortion-on-demand.


 “Fianna Fáil has confirmed that its ‘position on abortion remains unchanged’ and that they ‘will maintain Ireland’s ban on abortion,'” reports Steven Ertelt of “The party also states that it ‘will oppose moves to legalize abortion in Ireland.’ On embryo research, Fianna Fáil states that it is ‘opposed to research on embryos and will not support moves to legalise this in Ireland.’


“The statements from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are very significant,” said Dr. Ruth Cullen of Ireland’s Pro-Life Campaign. “For pro-life people wondering how to vote, these statements bring clarity to the election debate. There are many issues troubling voters but no issue is more important than protecting life.


“How we treat the vulnerable measures how civilized we are as a society,” she added. “The Labour Party, which may form part of the next government, has unfortunately committed itself to introducing abortion and stem cell research.”

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