Govt to enact X Case legislation by end of July

Friday 08 March 2013 23.21
X Case legislation expected to be enacted by end of July
X Case legislation expected to be enacted by end of July

The Government will enact legislation for the X Case by the end of July.

This is according to a timetable provided by the Government to the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

The indication that the bill would be enacted before the summer recess is included in a communication issued this afternoon by the Council of Europe's committee.

The committee monitors how member states implement binding judgments by the European Court of Human Rights.

In this case the judgment in question was the ABC v Ireland case, in which the Strasbourg court ruled that the State was in breach of an applicant’s human rights over the abortion issue.

Although the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has been specifically following up on the Government's implementation of the ABC ruling, its hearings on the issue coincided with the Savita Halappanavar case last year.

According to a statement issued by the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe "welcomed the indicative timetable presented" by the Government which foresees a bill being published in April and "that the Bill itself would be introduced in the Parliament in the summer session with the goal of having it enacted by the end of July, having due regard to the prerogative of parliament."

The statement reaffirmed "the legal obligation on Ireland to put in place and implement a legislative or regulatory regime providing effective and accessible procedures whereby pregnant women can establish whether or not they are entitled to a lawful abortion".

It added that the Committee "noted with satisfaction that the authorities have decided to implement the judgment by way of legislation".

Following the ABC ruling, the Government provided the Council of Europe with details of an Action Plan, including the setting up of the expert group to look at the ethical issues surrounding the X Case ruling.

During a hearing by the committee in July last year, members expressed "concern" regarding the situation of women in Ireland who believed their lives may be at risk due to pregnancy.

The Council of Europe is the 47-member organisation which promotes democracy and the protection of human rights.

It oversees the European Court of Human Rights, which is also based in Strasbourg.