- The Iona Institute - http://www.ionainstitute.ie -

Commissioner’s opinion on Irish abortion law has no real legal weight

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, said in a report this week that we should introduce a British-style abortion law here. No, we shouldn’t and we don’t have to. The opinion has about as much legal weight as a feather.

Muižnieks, a former director of the Soros Foundation  (George Soros being well known for supporting pro-choice organisations) is, at the end of the day, offering an opinion that is totally unsupported by the Council of Europe’s main judicial institution, the European Court of Human Rights.

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent non-judicial institution established by the Council of Europe. The Commissioner visits countries that are members of the Council and expresses opinions and recommendations to local governments. His reports don’t get approved by the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe and are not binding in any sense.

In November 2016 Muižnieks visited Ireland and met some state authorities and non-governmental organisations. Following this visit, the Commissioner has published a report [1] that covers a number of issues: the rights of Travellers and Roma, gender equality, children’s rights and, of course, abortion.

 

With regard to abortion, he suggested the decriminalisation of abortion within what he calls ‘reasonable gestational limits’. One wonders what these limits are.

“The Commissioner strongly urges the Irish authorities to make progress towards a legal regime governing the termination of pregnancy, including in the Constitution, that is more respectful of the human rights of women. He recommends decriminalising abortion within reasonable gestational limits. At the very minimum, abortion performed to preserve the physical and mental health of women, or in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape or incest should be made lawful.” (p. 2)

“Physical and mental” health grounds would make our law the same as Britain’s, where one in five pregnancies end in abortion.

In arriving at its recommendations, the report refers to documents from pro-choice organisations like Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Family Planning Association. Needless to say, pro-life organisations don’t get a look-in. Why not?

It is extremely important to note that there is no right to abortion in the most fundamental document of the Council of Europe, namely the European Convention on Human Rights. In fact, the European Court for Human Rights, which was established on the basis of the Convention, in its ruling on the ABC case requested Ireland to clarify the legislation regarding abortion but did not create any right to abortion. Nor has it done so in any other case.

The opinions of the Commissioner, expressed in the report, put no obligations on the Irish state. They are simply recommendations.

Interestingly, Nils Muižnieks [2] before being elected Commissioner for Human Rights, was programme director of the Soros Foundation/Latvia.

This organisation is part of a network, now called the Open Society Foundations, founded by the controversial billionaire George Soros.

Last year a leaked strategy document [3] detailed how the Foundations planned to fund Amnesty International Ireland, the Abortion Rights Campaign and the Irish Family Planning Association for the purpose of repealing the 8th Amendment.

And in this week’s issue, The Irish Catholic has revealed that the Abortion Rights Campaign has returned a grant of $24,999 to the Open Society Foundations [4] after being directed to do so by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) as foreign funds cannot be used for political campaigns.

Pressure from abroad to change Irish abortion laws is growing. Sometimes it takes the form of illegal funding, other times it is just a report from an opinionated politician. It has to be rejected in any case.