Summary and comment, Marge Berer, Reproductive Health Matters


This bill manages to allow abortion if a woman’s life is at risk while at the same time protecting the life of the fetus, as required in the Irish Constitution, and at the same time, meeting the conditions laid down by the European Court to legislate clearly on matters arising from previous court cases.


The bill allows abortiononly if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”, for example arising from a physical illness. It says that it is “not necessary for medical practitioners to be of the opinion that the risk to the woman’s life is inevitable or immediate, as this approach insufficiently vindicates the pregnant woman’s right to life”. However, it repeats often that there must be a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.


It also says: “In circumstances where the unborn may be potentially viable outside the womb, doctors must make all efforts to sustain its life after delivery. However, that requirement does not go so far as to oblige a medical practitioner to disregard a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman on the basis that it will result in the death of the unborn.”


This appears to take particular account of what happened to Savita Halappanavar, as does the name of the bill.


It creates separate conditions for what to do if the woman is threatening suicide, including requiring at least three medical opinions as to whether to allow an abortion on this ground.


It makes it clear that legal abortion will be very rare. It allows a woman to appeal a decision against her but makes it extremely difficult to do so.


It allows for conscientious objection by individuals but NOT by institutions, which is important, and requires anyone objecting to find another medical professional to refer the woman to.


The bureacracy for medical professional control of the decision to allow an abortion is prodigious and possibly even unworkable in practice if a woman’s life is at risk. It potentially requires many medical professionals to be involved to agree an abortion is legal, far more than in any other country. The numbers required to agree to an abortion in case of a threat of suicide appear to say it is hard to believe any woman would actually commit suicide and so she must be examined by many to prove it. It requires any abortion to take place in an obstetric hospital unless it is a medical emergency, which also has specific conditions attached.


It makes it very clear that there is no restriction on travelling to another country for an abortion where it is legal. It almost invites women to continue doing so rather than go through this process.


Last, and not least, it says that anyone found providing or having an illegal abortion will be subject to punishment of up to 14 years in prison. This is very serious. In my opinion, it is perhaps the worst aspect of this bill from Irish women’s point of view.


I believe this bill is extremely successful at doing exactly what the European Court required, to clarify the law when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, and not a step further. For all the easy criticism we can make of every word of it, it is a gift to the politicians who must have felt (no matter what their personal views) that their political lives were not worth having this fight. They can now say “We did exactly what we were told to do by the European Court” and no more. It will be impossible to oppose it – in those terms – from any point of view. The person/people who drafted it deserve a gold star for compliance with the political necessity involved.

European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment today in the case P. and S. v. Poland. Federation for Women and Family Planning and its lawyers have been involved in the case from the very beginning. It is a case of a teenage girl who was pregnant as a result of rape. Despite the fact that there was a relevant document issued by the prosecutor, she had been denied legal abortion in several hospitals. As a result she had to undergo the procedure in a hospital located 500 kilometers from her place of residence. Besides that, her right to confidentiality of medical information was breached, which resulted in severe harassment by pro-life and Catholic activists. The girl was also separated from her mother and placed in a juvenile shelter.

The Court determined violations of Article 8, (right to respect for private and family life) as regards the determination of access to lawful abortion in respect of both applicants (by six votes to one) and as regards the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data (unanimously);  Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) in respect of P., and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of P.

The court held that Poland was to pay P. 30,000 euros (EUR) and S. EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 16,000 to both applicants in respect of costs and expenses.

Read the judgment in full here: – Last Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 13:40


The Government has defeated a Dáil Private Members’ Bill implementing the X case ruling to provide limited access to abortion by 111 votes to 20.

The Private Members’ Bill, put forward by Socialist Party TD Clare Daly, along with People Before Profit TD Joan Collins and Independent TD Mick Wallace, seeks to create a legal framework for abortion in Ireland where a woman’s life is at risk.

The vote was opposed by Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail. It was backed by Sinn Fein and number of independents.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly rejected the Bill on the grounds that the House should await the report of an expert group on the matter.

Speaking before the vote, Ms Daly said she respected other people’s opinions, but there had some inaccuracies in the debate. The Bill, she said, did not seek abortion on demand. She said it was incredibly limited and solely provided for the situation whereby an abortion would be permissible in Ireland where the life of the woman was at risk, including from suicide.

Following a 1992 Supreme Court ruling – known as the X-case – abortion has been legal in circumstances where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother. However, successive governments have not enacted legislation to give full effect to the ruling.

Minister of State for Health Roisín Shortall thanked Ms Daly and her colleagues for moving the Bill. She reiterated the Government’s commitment to the “expeditious implementation’’ of the European Court of Human Rights judgement. This found the State had violated the rights of a woman who had cancer and who was forced to travel abroad to get an abortion.

Ms Shortall said she agreed with people who were critical of the fact that the issue had not been addressed. “Many years have been lost in respect of the commitment to legislate for the X case,’” she added.

She said it was unfair to criticise the current Government, given that an expert group had been set up and legislation would be introduced in accordance with its recommendations.

“As soon as the expert group reports at the end of June, the Government is absolutely committed to taking action in this area,” Ms Shortall added.

During the debate, Fine Gael TD for Mayo Michelle Mulherin said “fornication” was the single greatest cause of unwanted pregnancies in Ireland.

“In an ideal world there would be no unwanted pregnancies and no unwanted babies. But we are far from living in an ideal world,” she said. “Abortion as murder, therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful, from a scriptural point of view, than all other sins we don’t legislate against, like greed, hate and fornication. The latter, being fornication, I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

Labour Party deputies voted against the Bill despite expressing support for such a move at last week’s party conference. A spokeswoman said last night the issue of abortion was a sensitive one and should not be dealt with through a Private Members’ Bill.

At the party’s annual conference last weekend, Labour members supported a motion in favour of legislating to give effect to the X-case ruling. Labour has consistently called for such a move since the 1992 ruling.

“In the meantime women who need life-saving abortions, and their doctors, are in the same invidious legal position as they were 20 years ago,” he said. “Nor will the European Court of Human Rights be content to see Ireland’s legislators continue to drag their heels. Action is long overdue – and this Bill is a minimum first step.”




The Federation for Women and Family Planning expresses a great satisfaction with landmark judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg in the case R.R. v. Poland,which states that Poland has violated the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Federation is even more pleased as the R.R. case was conducted by our organization in cooperation with the Warsaw University Law Clinic, supported by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Att. Monika Gąsiorowska and Irmina Kotkiuk, who conducted the case at the Court, are members of the Federation’s Network of Lawyers.


The Court stated that the human rights resulting from the articles 3 and 8 of the Convention were violated by the Polish State in the case of pregnant woman who could not exercise her right to the prenatal diagnostic tests which might have confirmed or denied a previous diagnosis of a presence of  severe genetic abnormality of a foetus.


Following the judicature consolidated in the previous judgments the Court stated that the woman’s right to respect for private and family life (article 8 of the Convention) was violated because she had been denied reliable information about a condition of her foetus and had been prevented from deciding whether or not continue a pregnancy. Consequently, the Polish State did not provided the woman with a possibility to exercise the patient’s fundamental right to information. Furthermore, the Court stated that the Polish State does not provide an effective mechanism for exercising this right.


The Federation is also greatly satisfied with a fact that the Court acknowledged that the article 3 of the Convention considering prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment was violated in this case. It is for the first time in a history that the Court passed such a judgment in the case considering the reproductive rights. The Court stated that a medical treatment the woman had experienced exceeded the limits acceptable by the Convention.  The woman had suffered for many weeks what according to the Court exceeds a minimum threshold of pain acceptable on a ground of the article 3. It means that a way the doctors looked after the women was an inhuman and degrading treatment.


The Federation is pleased that the Court awarded the woman a record-breaking 45 000 EURO compensation. The Court acknowledged that the woman’s torment and suffering caused by a lack of knowledge about her situation together with a great humiliation she had suffered at the doctors’ hands as well as the other circumstances of the case justify the compensation’s amount.


We consider the Court’s judgment in the R.R. case as a great success in our fight for respecting the women’s reproductive rights in Poland.

(german version below)


Coerced childbearing is tantamount to servitude

Comment on the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 16 January 2010

Anne-Marie Rey, abortion-information, Zollikofen/Switzerland


I am not a lawyer, but I was thouroughly disappointed by the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of ABC v Ireland. The judgment may bring a solution, now and then, to a handfull of women in Ireland faced with a life-threatening condition because of their pregnancy. But most Irish women will still have to travel to another country for abortion. In my opinion, the Court just did not see (or did not want to see, for political reasons) that forced childbearing violates core fundamental personal rights of women.

Ireland together with the mini-states of Andorra, Malta and San Marino are the only states in Europe where abortion is still totally prohibited (in Ireland with the only exception of risk to life for the pregnant woman). The Irish Constitution guarantees „the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother”. There is no law defining more precisely what is meant by “due regard” or any procedure for such cases. There is only a judgment by the Irish Supreme Court saying that risk of suicide is also a legitimate ground for abortion.

In 2005 three women, A., B. and C., submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (Court). They claimed that the impossibility to obtain an abortion in Ireland was stigmatising and an affront to their dignity and, in the case of C., constituted even a risk to her life. The Court held that in the case of applicant C. there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – which guarantees the right to respect for private life – because the authorities had failed to provide a procedure by which she could have established whether she qualified for a lawful abortion in Ireland.

On the other hand, by 11 votes to 6, the Court dismissed the claims of applicants A. and B., since „only“ their health and well-being had been at stake and they had the possibility to interrupt their pregnancy in England. Having regard to the profound moral views of the Irish people, the Court considered that by prohibiting abortion for health and well-being reasons Ireland had not exceeded its margin of appreciation.

It strikes me that only 5 of the 17 judges were women, 3 of whom were among the 6 dissenting judges who argued that not only applicant C’s (who had a life-threatening condition), but also applicants A and B’s right to private life had been violated under article 8 of the ECHR, because they were not entitled to have an abortion in Ireland for reasons of health and well-being. The other two women on the panel of judges were the representatives of the accused State of Ireland and of Andorra (which has an even stricter ban of abortion).

Article 2 ECHR: everyone’s right to life

In its ruling, the Court has NOT recognized the existence of a „right to life of the unborn“, as was wrongly alleged by antiabortion circles (in particular the European Centre for Law and Justice ECLJ – what a misleading name!). But it did concede to Ireland a broad margin of appreciation to determine “the protection accorded under IRISH law to the right to life of the unborn”. In its reasoning the Court stuck to earlier findings that “there was no European consensus on the scientific and legal definition of the beginning of life, so that it was neither desirable nor possible to answer the question whether the unborn was a person to be protected for the purposes of Article 2 ECHR”, hence, the question of when the right to life begins came within the States’ margin of appreciation. – Not exactly a bold statement.

The Court is mixing up two distinct notions: „beginning of life“ is not the same as „beginning of personhood“. The question is not when life begins, but when a person becomes a person. Only persons have rights. In the French version of the ECHR the word „personne“ is used in Article 2. In the case of Paton v United Kingdom of 1980 (Appl. 6959/75) the Court took a clear stand and said; „both the general usage of the term ‘everyone’ (‘toute personne’) of the Convention and the context in which this term is employed in Article 2 tend to support the view that it does not include the unborn“.

So in a possible next complaint to the Court concerning abortion rights, we should argue that in fact there IS a strong consensus in Europe that personhood begins at birth and therefore embryos do NOT have a right to life. No European States – with the exception of the four mentioned above – accord to prenatal life the same protection as to born persons, let alone an absolute right to life. (When the German Constitutional Court in its judgment of 1993 talked about a „right to life of the unborn“, it did by no means confer to the unborn an equal right to life as to persons already born, otherwise it could never have admitted a law permitting abortion on request within the first weeks of pregnancy. By its reasoning, the German court has created a sort of second class “right to life” thereby dangerously weakening the notion.)

Article 8 ECHR: the right to respect for private and family life

Fortunately the Court has reiterated its earlier finding: “the notion of ’private life’ within the meaning of Article 8 of the Convention is a broad concept which encompasses, inter alia, the right to personal autonomy and personal development,… a person’s physical and psychological integrity as well as decisions both to have and not to have a child”. The Court did NOT say categorically – as purported by the ECLJ – that there is “no human right to abortion stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights“. The Court only referred to Article 8 which, unfortunately, according to the Court “cannot be interpreted as conferring a right to abortion” and it added – repeating an earlier statement – that “not every regulation of the termination of pregnancy constitutes an interference with the right to respect for the private life of the mother”. [Why do the judges use the word “mother” when meaning a pregnant woman???!!!]

Unfortunately, 11 out of the 17 judges decided, that the prohibition in Ireland of abortion for reasons of health and well-being, although constituting an interference with the right to respect for private life, was justified because it was “necessary in a democratic society” for pursuing a legitimate aim, namely “the protection of (Irish) morals of which the protection in Ireland of the right to life of the unborn was one aspect”. Having regard to the right to travel abroad for an abortion and to have access to appropriate information and medical care before and afterwards, the Court found that Ireland had “struck a fair balance between the rights of women and the profound moral values of the Irish people and did not exceed its margin of appreciation.”

The Court did not take into account that many women cannot afford to travel, that the procedure is delayed and made more burdensome and that the abortion ban criminalizes and humiliates women.

Double standard

In my opinion, the Court applies double standards, whether it’s abortion or in vitro fertilization (IVF):

  • In the case S.H. and Others v Austria (Appl. 57813/00) concerning IVF, the Court declared that “a complete ban on the medical technique at issue would not be proportionate unless it was deemed to be the only means of effectively preventing serious repercussions“. On the other hand, the Court finds the Irish prohibition of abortion proportionate, although prohibition has never and nowhere been an effective means to avoid abortions but, on the contrary, has always had serious repercussions for women!
  • The Court did not address at all in the S.H. v Austria case the argument of the Austrian government as for an „unease existing among large sections of society“ concerning modern reproductive medicine. Instead, contrary to the Irish case, the Court found that “concerns based on moral considerations or on social acceptability are not in themselves sufficient reasons for a complete ban on a specific artificial procreation technique“.
  • Although the Court acknowledged that there is no European consensus“ on IVF, it did not concede a “large margine of appreciation” to Austria, whereas it did concede such a margin to Ireland, in spite of a strong European consensus existing with regard to abortion rights.
  • In the Austrian case, the Court held that the restrictive law on reproductive medicine violated article 8 ECHR, because where a particularly important facet of an individual’s existence or identity is at stake, the margin allowed to the State will be restricted, and the wish for a child IS one such particularly important facet“. Ireland on the other hand was accorded a broad margin of appreciation, in spite of abortion also touching a “particularly important facet of an individual’s existence or identity“.

It looks like in the eyes of the Strasbourg judges the desire to have a child was more existentially important than the wish NOT to become a mother. I would see it rather the other way round.

Article 4 ECHR: prohibition of servitude and forced labour

It is appalling that States may violate women’s most fundamental rigths just to protect “moral values” of a (presumed) majority of their inhabitants. In my opinion the majority judges did not realize what it means for a woman to UNWILLINGLY (!!!) have to carry to term within her body, for 9 months, an embryo/fetus and then have to give birth.

Articles 4 of the ECHR and of the International Declaration on Human Rights prohibit servitude and forced labour. Astonishingly, no abortion ban has yet been challenged pursuant to these articles.

„Servitude“ – the word used in the German translation of Articles 4 is „Leibeigenschaft“, which expresses exactly what forced pregnancy means: your body belongs to someone else, the State (or a fetus) takes possession of the body of a woman, against her will. The word „labour“ applies to a woman giving birth, forced childbearing is nothing else but forced labour!

In her book „Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics“ theologian Beverly Harrison compares pregnancy and childbearing to servitude when they are compulsory. And Dawn Johnsen, law professor at Indiana University School of Law said: “Statutes that curtail [a woman’s] abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude”.

So, in a possible future complaint to the European Court of Human Rights concerning abortion rights, I would suggest

  1. to invoke Article 4 of the ECHR which prohibits servitude and forced labour and
  2. to argue that, in fact, there does exist a strong consensus in Europe that personhood begins at birth and therefore Article 2 ECHR definitely does not include prenatal life.


Gebärpflicht bedeutet Leibeigenschaft

Kommentar zum Urteil des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte vom 16.12.2010


Anne-Marie Rey, Schwangerschaftsabbruch-Infostelle, Zollikofen/Schweiz


Ich bin nicht Juristin, aber ich bin tief enttäuscht über das Urteil des Europäischen Gerichtshofes für Menschenrechte (EGMR) zur Frage der Abtreibung im Fall A., B. und C. gegen Irland vom 16. Dezember 2010 ( Das Urteil mag für einige wenige Frauen in Irland, deren Leben durch eine Schwangerschaft gefährdet ist, eine Lösung bringen. Aber die allermeisten Irländerinnen werden nach wie vor für einen Schwangerschaftsabbruch ins Ausland reisen müssen. Meines Erachtens hat das Gericht schlicht übersehen (oder wollte es aus politischen Gründen nicht sehen), dass eine Gebärpflicht den Kernbereich der Persönlichkeitsrechte der Frau verletzt.

Irland gehört mit den Zwergstaaten Andorra, Malta und San Marino zu den einzigen vier Ländern in Europa, die heute noch Schwangerschaftsabbruch total verbieten (in Irland mit der einzigen Ausnahme der akuten Lebensgefahr für die Schwangere). Die Irische Verfassung garantiert „das Recht auf Leben des Ungeborenen, unter gebührender Berücksichtigung des gleichen Rechts auf Leben der Mutter“. Ein präzisierendes Gesetz, was unter „gebührender Berücksichtigung“ zu verstehen und wie in solchen Fällen vorzugehen sei, gibt es nicht, bloss ein Gerichtsurteil von 1993, wonach auch Suizidgefährdung einen Schwangerschaftsabbruch legitimiert.

Im Jahr 2005 haben 3 Frauen, A., B. und C., beim EGMR gegen Irland geklagt: Die Unmöglichkeit, in Irland eine Schwangerschaft abbrechen zu lassen, sei stigmatisierend und demütigend und gefährde ihre Gesundheit, im Fall von C. sogar ihr Leben. Das Gericht hat im Fall der Klägerin C. (eine Frau, deren Leben durch die Schwangerschaft gefährdet war) eine Verletzung von Artikel 8 der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention (EMRK), der das Recht auf Privatleben garantiert, bejaht. Die Behörden hätten es unterlassen, ein Verfahren einzurichten, das ihr erlaubt hätte, ihren Anspruch auf einen legalen Abbruch in Irland abklären zu lassen.

Die Klagen von A. und B. hingegen wies das Gericht mit 11 zu 6 Stimmen ab. Bei ihnen sei es „nur“ um ihre Gesundheit, beziehungsweise ihr Wohlbefinden gegangen und sie hätten ja die Möglichkeit gehabt, die Schwangerschaft in England abzubrechen. Mit Rücksicht auf die in Irland vorherrschenden moralischen Werte liege es im Ermessen Irlands, Abtreibungen aus solchen Gründen zu verbieten.

Mir fällt auf, dass unter den 17 Richtern nur gerade fünf Frauen waren. Drei von ihnen gehörten zur Gruppe der sechs Richter, die Artikel 8 der EMRK auch bei den Klägerinnen A. und B. verletzt sahen, weil sie in Irland keine Möglichkeit hatten, ihre Schwangerschaft aus Gründen der Gesundheit und des Wohlbefindens abbrechen zu lassen. Die beiden andern Frauen im Richtergremium waren die Vertreterinnen des angeklagten Irland und Andorras, dessen Abtreibungsverbot noch krasser ist als dasjenige Irlands.

Artikel 2 EMRK: Jeder hat das Recht auf Leben

Das Gericht hat in seiner Urteilsbegründung NICHT ein „Recht auf Leben des Ungeborenen anerkannt“, wie gewisse Kreise der Abtreibungsgegner (namentlich das European Centre for Law and Justice ECLJ – welch ein irreführender Name!) behaupteten. Es hat jedoch Irland einen weiten Ermessensspielraum zugestanden zu bestimmen, inwieweit „im IRISCHEN Recht dem Recht auf Leben des Ungeborenen“ Schutz zu gewähren sei. Das Gericht begründet dies – wie bereits in früheren Entscheiden – damit, dass es keinen europäischen Konsens über die wissenschaftliche und gesetzliche Definition des Lebensbeginns gebe, so dass es weder wünschenswert noch möglich sei, die Frage zu beantworten, ob das Ungeborene eine zu schützende Person im Sinn von Artikel 2 EMRK sei. Die Frage, wann das Recht auf Leben beginne, gehöre daher in den Ermessensspielraum der Staaten. – Nicht gerade eine mutige Aussage.

Das Gericht vermischt zwei unterschiedliche Begriffe: „Lebensbeginn“ ist nicht gleichzusetzen mit „Beginn des Personseins“. Die Frage ist nicht, wann Leben beginnt, sondern ab wann eine Person eine Person ist. Nur Personen haben Rechte (im Französischen wird in Art. 2 EMRK der Begriff „toute personne…“ verwendet). Im Fall Paton v Vereinigtes Königreich vom Jahr 1980 (Appl. 6959/75) hat das Gericht in der Urteilsbegründung klarer Stellung bezogen: Die Verwendung des Begriffs “jeder” in der EMRK und in Artikel 2 im Besonderen unterstützten die Ansicht, ungeborenes Leben sei NICHT eingeschlossen, schrieb es damals.

In einer eventuellen nächsten Beschwerde an den EGMR zum Abtreibungsrecht müsste argumentiert werden, dass es in Europa sehr wohl einen Konsens gibt, dass Personsein und somit das Recht auf Leben mit der Geburt beginnt. Kein Staat – abgesehen von den vier eingangs genannten Ländern – gewährt ungeborenem Leben denselben Schutz wie Geborenen, geschweige denn ein absolutes Lebensrecht. (Wenn das deutsche Bundesverfassungsgericht in seinem Urteil von 1993 von einem „Lebensrecht des Ungeborenen“ redet, dann ist damit nicht ein gleiches Recht auf Leben gemeint wie bei Geborenen, sonst hätte es keinesfalls eine Fristenregelung für zulässig erklären können. Vielmehr hat das BVerfG gleichsam ein „Recht auf Leben“ zweiter Klasse geschaffen und den Begriff dadurch geschwächt).

Artikel 8 EMRK: Recht auf Achtung des Privat- und Familienlebens

Der EGMR hat erfreulicherweise erneut festgehalten: „Der Begriff ‚Privatleben’ im Sinne von Artikel 8 der Konvention ist ein breites Konzept, welches unter anderem das Recht auf persönliche Autonomie und persönliche Entfaltung einschliesst,… [und auch] Themen wie die körperliche und geistige Integrität einer Person sowie die Entscheidung, ein Kind zu bekommen oder kein Kind zu bekommen betrifft“. Entgegen der Behauptung des ECLJ befand das Gericht nicht kategorisch, aus der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention lasse sich kein Recht auf Abtreibung ableiten. Das Gericht bezog sich einzig auf Artikel 8, von welchem es leider tatsächlich sagte, er könne nicht im Sinne eines Rechts auf Abtreibung interpretiert werden. Es zitierte aus früheren Urteilen: Nicht jede Regelung des Schwangerschaftsabbruchs verletze das Recht auf Achtung des Privatlebens der Mutter. [Warum bloss verwenden die Richter das Wort „Mutter“, wenn sie eine schwangere Frau meinen??!!]

Leider haben 11 der 17 Richter entschieden, das irische Verbot der Abtreibung bei Gefährdung der Gesundheit und des Wohlbefindens der Schwangeren sei gerechtfertigt, obwohl das Recht auf Achtung des Privatlebens dadurch beeinträchtigt werde. Das Verbot sei „in einer demokratischen Gesellschaft notwendig“, weil es ein legitimes Ziel verfolge, nämlich den „Schutz der (irischen) Moral“. Dazu zähle in Irland auch der Schutz des Lebensrechts des Ungeborenen. Angesichts der Möglichkeit, für den Abbruch ins Ausland zu reisen und auch entsprechende Informationen und Beratung sowie medizinische Vor- und Nachsorge zu erhalten, habe Irland eine faire Abwägung zwischen den Rechten der Frauen und den tiefgehenden moralischen Werten des Irischen Volkes vorgenommen und seinen Ermessensspielraum nicht überschritten.

Dass sich viele Frauen solche Reisen nicht leisten können, dass der Eingriff dadurch verzögert, belastender wird, dass das Abtreibungsverbot Frauen kriminalisiert und demütigt, haben die Richter unter den Tisch gewischt.


Mir scheint ausserdem, das Gericht wendet zweierlei Massstäbe an, ob es geht um Abtreibung oder um in-vitro-Fertilisation (IVF):

  • Im Fall S.H. gegen Österreich (Appl. 57813/00), wo es um Fortpflanzungsmedizin ging, hat der EGMR erklärt, ein völliges Verbot der IVF wäre unverhältnismässig, ausser es sei das einzige Mittel, wirksam schwerwiegende Folgen zu vermeiden. Das irische Abtreibungsverbot hingegen findet das Gericht verhältnismässig, obwohl solche Verbote noch nie und nirgends Abtreibungen verhindern konnten, sondern im Gegenteil schwerwiegende Folgen für Frauen haben!
  • Im Gegensatz zu Irland ging das Gericht im Fall S.H. gar nicht näher auf das Argument der österreichischen Regierung ein, in weiten Teilen der Bevölkerung bestehe ein Unbehagen gegenüber der Fortpflanzungsmedizin. Im Gegenteil befand der EGMR, die vorgebrachten Bedenken Österreichs hin­sichtlich Moral oder gesellschaft­licher Akzeptanz seien keine ausreichenden Gründe für ein völliges Verbot.
  • Im Fall von Irland gestand der EGMR der Regierung einen grossen Ermessensspielraum zu – im Fall von Österreich hingegen nicht, obwohl es zur Frage des Schwangerschaftsabbruchs einen breiten europäischen Konsens gibt, im Gegensatz zur IVF.
  • Beim Wunsch nach einem Kind gehe es um einen besonders wichtigen Aspekt der Existenz oder Identität einer Person, der Ermes­sensspielraum des Staates sei daher eingeschränkt, schrieb der EGMR zum Fall S.H., das restriktive österreichische Fortpflanzungsmedizin-Gesetz verletze Artikel 8 EMRK. Irland hingegen wurde beim Abtreibungsverbot ein weiter Ermessensspielraum zugestanden, obwohl es auch hier „um einen besonders wichtigen Aspekt der Existenz oder Identität einer Person“ ging.

Offenbar ist in den Augen der Strassburger Richter der Kinderwunsch existenzieller als der Wunsch, KEIN Kind zu bekommen! Ich sehe das eher umgekehrt.

Artikel 4 EMRK: Verbot der Leibeigenschaft und der Zwangsarbeit

Ich bin empört, dass es zulässig sein soll, zentrale Grundrechte von Frauen einzuschränken, um moralische Werte einer (vermuteten) Bevölkerungsmehrheit zu schützen. Mir scheint, die Mehrheit der Richter hat sich nicht Rechenschaft gegeben, was es für eine Frau heisst, während neun Monaten in ihrem Körper UNGEWOLLT einen Embryo/Fötus heranwachsen lassen und schliesslich gebären zu müssen.

Artikel 4 sowohl der EMRK wie der Allgemeinen Menschenrechtserklärung verbieten Leibeigenschaft und Zwangsarbeit. Eigenartigerweise wurde noch nie ein Abtreibungsverbot aufgrund dieser Artikel angefochten.

Was ist es anderes als Leibeigenschaft, wenn der Staat über den Körper einer Frau bestimmt oder ein Fötus von ihrem Körper gegen ihren Willen Besitz ergreift? Was ist Gebärzwang anderes als Zwangsarbeit? (Artikel 4 der EMRK spricht auf Englisch von „forced labour“, auf Französisch „travail forcé“ – sowohl „labour“ wie „travail“ bedeuten auch „Geburtswehen“).

Die Theologin Beverly Harrison schreibt in ihrem Buch Die neue Ethik der Frauen: „Der Zwang, eine Schwangerschaft auszutragen und zu gebären, ist am ehesten mit Leibeigenschaft zu vergleichen“. Und Dawn Johnsen, Rechtsprofessorin an der Indiana University School of Law, äusserte: “Regelungen, welche die Wahlfreiheit einer Frau in bezug auf Abtreibung einschränken, erinnern auf bedenkliche Weise an Leibeigenschaft“ (statutes that curtail a woman’s abortion choice are disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude).

In einer eventuellen nächsten Beschwerde an den EGMR in Sachen Abtreibung müsste meines Erachtens

  1. eine Verletzung von Artikel 4 der EMRK eingeklagt werden und

  2. argumentiert werden, es gebe in Europa einen sehr breiten Konsens, dass Personsein mit der Geburt beginnt und Artikel 2 der EMRK das vorgeburtliche Leben klar nicht einschliesst.


PRESSEMITTEILUNG              Berlin, 25.01.2011


Europäischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte: „Tötungsspezialist“ ist Beleidigung

Aktivistinnen für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung von Frauen begrüßen das Urteil


Berlin – Am 13. Januar 2011 hat der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte geurteilt, dass

Abtreibungsgegner FrauenärztInnen, die Schwangerschaftsabbrüche durchführen, nicht als

„Tötungsspezialisten“ bezeichnen dürfen. Ist dies der Fall, sei eine Verurteilung wegen

Beleidigung gerechtfertigt, so das Gericht. Es liege keine Verletzung des Rechts auf freie

Meinungsäußerung vor.


2009 hat sich die „AG Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung“ gegründet. Diese ist ein Bündnis aus

Akteurinnen des Berliner Netzwerk Frauengesundheit, des Berliner Familienplanungszentrum –

BALANCE,  des Arbeitskreis  Frauengesundheit in Medizin, Psychotherapie und Gesellschaft e.V.

(AKF) und des Berliner Landesverband des Humanistischen Verbandes Deutschlands (HVD). 2009

hat die AG die „Erklärung eines Bündnisses für Entscheidungsfreiheit der Frauen über ihren

Körper und ihre Lebensplanung“ veröffentlicht. Bislang haben über 100 Einzelpersonen und

Institutionen das Papier unterschrieben.


Die „AG Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung“ tritt für die selbstbestimmte Entscheidung  der Frauen über

ihre Sexualität sowie ihre Familien- und Lebensplanung ein. Daher begrüßt sie das Urteil des

Straßburger Gerichtes ausdrücklich. Für die AG ist es längst an der Zeit klarzustellen, dass

Menschen und Institutionen, die sich für das Recht auf reproduktive Gesundheit von Frauen und

gegen die Diskriminierung von Frauen, die einen Schwangerschaftsabbruch vornehmen lassen

wollen einsetzen, nicht mehr von Abtreibungsgegnern beleidigt und diffamiert werden dürfen.

Das Urteil des Europäischen Gerichtshofes wird Folgen für die deutsche Rechtsprechung haben

und Chancen eröffnen, sich gegen Abtreibungsgegner zu wehren.


Dass dies nötig ist, zeigen einige Beispiele: Auf Homepages von Abtreibungsgegnern werden u.a.

ÄrztInnen und Familienplanungszentren, die Schwangerschaftsabbrüche durchführen,

herabgesetzt und als „Tötungszentren“ oder „Mörder“ bezeichnet. Darüber hinaus gab es

zahlreiche Strafanzeigen von Abtreibungsgegnern gegen aufklärende, beratende und

praktizierende AkteurInnen. Ihnen wurde u. a. Werbung für Schwangerschaftsabbrüche



Die „AG Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung“ wendet sich gegen christliche Abtreibungsgegner und sieht

in ihnen eine Gefahr für die Entscheidungsfreiheit der Frauen. Vor diesem Hintergrund hat sie am

12. Januar 2011 die Fachtagung  „Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung – Realität oder Utopie? Das Recht

auf reproduktive Gesundheit nach 20 Jahren Wiedervereinigung“ im Roten Rathaus Berlin

veranstaltet.  Teilgenommen haben prominente Landes- und Bundespolitikerinnen.


Eine Dokumentation der Tagung sowie weitere Informationen zum Thema finden Sie auf (unter Fachinfos/Schwangerschaftsabbruch).



Sybill Schulz, Sprecherin Netzwerk Frauengesundheit Berlin, Geschäftsführerin Berliner

Familienplanungszentrum – BALANCE, Tel. 030/236 236 80, Email:

Isabel Merchan, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, Tel. 030/236 236 80,

Abortion Support Network Press Release
16 December 2010

Abortion Support Network disappointed by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the challenge to Ireland’s abortion ban


Abortion Support Network is extremely disappointed with today’s ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to the challenge to Ireland’s abortion ban by three women who underwent considerable hardship and trauma by being forced to travel to England in order to access a safe and legal abortion. As an organisation that provides support to women who are forced to make this journey, we know the significant distress, worry and financial burden that women in Ireland are made to bear by being denied an abortion in their own country.

Every year thousands of women are forced to make this journey, and do so under extremely difficult, often desperate, circumstances. They face the struggles of finding the money to pay for the cost of the trip and procedure, of taking time off work, and sometimes the additional costs and difficulties of finding child care. These costs can range from anything between £400 and £2000. Women face the additional burden and stress of maintaining secrecy about their abortion back home. As a result, these women are incredibly isolated and many travel alone.

Abortion Support Network’s Director, Mara Clarke said:

“While we are encouraged by the ruling that woman “C”, who was undergoing chemotherapy when she fell pregnant, had her human rights violated, we are deeply saddened that the Court chose not to recognise the hardships faced by the two other claimants in the case.

The sooner the Irish government rectifies this long-standing injustice, the sooner women will be able to make their own decisions about abortion and make choices that are right for them.

Every week we hear from pregnant women living in Ireland who are in a state of crisis, with no other place to turn. As long as women in the Republic of Ireland do not have access to safe and legal abortions in their home country, Abortion Support Network will offer them immediate, practical support in the form of confidential, non-judgemental information, accommodation and financial help towards the costs of their abortion.

We will also continue to offer our support to women in Northern Ireland, and other countries where women’s rights continue to be violated by the denial of access to safe and legal abortions in their home countries.

We will help women irrespective of circumstance as it is our belief that women are capable of making their own decisions.”

In the words of one of the women that we have supported, a 37 year old mother of three:

“It was a very hard decision and I wouldn’t wish anyone to find themselves in this situation … I felt vulnerable, alone and upset. I felt I could contact ASN, that they cared and they were there to support me while in another country and alone … I will forever feel grateful for the help and support I received.”