Abortion in Ireland: An Analysis of the Legal Transformation Resulting from Membership in the European Union
Posted: 28 Oct 2003
Since gaining its independence from Britain, the Republic of Ireland has effectuated certain policies of the Catholic Church. Because nearly ninety percent of Ireland's four million citizens are Catholic, one clearly sees how Church pressures influence politics and everyday life in Ireland. One example of this influence is reflected in Ireland's policy on abortion: abortion has long been, and continues to be, illegal in Ireland. Within the last decade, however, a shift in public attitude on abortion has slowly evolved among the Irish people and Irish jurisprudence.
This Article considers recent Irish policy on abortion and outlines the struggle, legal challenges, and attitudinal shifts brought about by the strengthening of the European Union and its vastly different view of abortion. The article begins by reviewing the history of abortion in Ireland before analyzing Ireland's participation in the European Community and the Community's enormous effect on Ireland's abortion policy. The article then examines the trilogy of cases that significantly shifted Irish policy regarding the right to information and the right to travel for the purpose of obtaining an abortion, details the legislative activity passed as a result of the trilogy of cases impacting abortion law in Ireland, and examines the most recent notable abortion case and the resulting public reaction. Finally, the article reviews the latest government attempt to clarify the law, criticizes the current law and discusses possible solutions to the present uncertainty.
JEL Classification: I18, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation