On 11 August, a piece from Professor Richard Ekins KC (Hon) set out a case for the UK denouncing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and leaving the treaty system altogether. One of the main arguments in favour of this is that it would ‘restore Parliament’s freedom, on behalf of the British people, to decide what our laws should be’. This marks one of the more recent such calls, amid a growing chorus of Ministers in the UK Government and Conservative Party MPs to leave the ECHR. Also, it should be noted that we have been here before. The constitutional aspects of such a move aside, there are particular reasons why it would impact Northern Ireland. While Northern Ireland does not feature in Professor Ekins’ 11 August piece, he has previously written about the interaction between the ECHR and the Good Friday Agreement 1998 (GFA), which underpins the modern devolution settlement in Northern Ireland and which brought an end to a brutal and deadly conflict. This interaction is the subject of this post.
M.R. and D.R.(suing by their father and next friend O.R.) & ors -v- An t-Ard-Chláraitheoir & ors  IESC 60 (7 November 2014) – read judgment
The definition of a mother, whether she is “genetic” or “gestational” for the purpose of registration laws was a matter for parliament, not the courts, the Irish Supreme Court has ruled.
At the core of the case was the question whether a mother whose donated ova had resulted in twin children born by a surrogacy arrangement should be registered as their parent, as opposed to the gestational mother who had borne the twins.
The genetic mother and father sought her registration as “mother” under the Civil Registration Act, 2004, along with a declaration that she was entitled to have the particulars of her maternity entered on the Certificate of Birth, and that the twins were entitled to have their relationship to the fourth named respondent recorded on their Certificates of Birth. Continue reading →
With the Pope giving his first “thought for the day” on this morning’s Today program, it seems a good opportunity to revisit the European Court of Human Right’s recent decision on abortion in Ireland. The emerging consensus is that the European court went no further than it needed to, and did little more than reasserting the status quo in Irish law.
The Pope, and the Roman Catholic Church which he heads, is against abortion. One of the effects of this is that states in which the Church is influential tend to have less liberal abortion laws. Ireland is such a state, and abortion is mostly illegal, except in certain very limited circumstances where the mother’s life is threatened.
The Grand Chamber of European Court of Human Rights has ruled unanimously that abortion must be more accessible in Ireland for women whose lives are at risk. It rejected applications that abortion must be more widely available in other circumstances.
The ruling does not represent a significant departure from the current state of Irish law – in that it does not require the state to legalise abortion more than it technically already has done – but the probable changes in the law may result in a general softening towards abortion in general, as, in theory at least, it will be much easier for women in life threatening situations to obtain an abortion. Up until now, the law has made it practically impossible to do so.
Moreover, the recognition that abortion falls under article 8 (the right to private and family life) may also lead in future to more wide-ranging judgments, along the lines of Roe v Wade in the United States.
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