STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- In a case regarding a challenge to the Irish constitution, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there is "no human right to abortion."
The Grand Chamber of the European court decided today on the A, B and C v. Ireland case, noting that the Irish constitutional prohibition of abortion does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
The challenge against Irish law was brought to the court last December by three women who allegedly were "forced" to go abroad for abortions, which they claim put their health in danger.
The court decided that the country's laws do not violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which stresses the "right to respect for private and family life."
The European Centre for Law and Justice, a third party in this case, lauded the court's further recognition of the "right to life of the unborn."
Grégor Puppinck, director of the center, explained to ZENIT the concern that the court would "recognize a right to abortion" as a "new right stemming from the always broader interpretation of article 8."
However, he added, "the court did not recognize such a right;" rather, it "recognized the right to life of the unborn as a legitimate right."
Puppinck clarified that "the court doesn't recognize the right to life of the unborn as an absolute right, but as a right that has to be balanced with other competing interests, such as the health of the mother or other social interests."
Balance of interests
Nonetheless, he added, "the states hold a broad margin of appreciation in the balancing of those competing interests, even if there is a vast pro-abortion consensus in European legislation."
"This is important: The broad pro-abortion consensus in European legislation doesn't create any new obligation, like in other socially and morally discussed issues," the director asserted.
He continued: "So, a state is free to provide a very high degree of protection to the right to life to the unborn children.
"The right to life to the unborn children can legitimately overcome other competing guaranteed rights.
"As such, there is no autonomous right to get an abortion based on the convention."
Puppinck noted, "I do not remember a previous case recognizing clearly an autonomous right to life to the unborn children."
The European Centre for Law and Justice noted in a communiqué that "the natural purpose and duty of the state to protect the life of its people; the people, consequently, hold the right to have their lives protected by the state."
"The reciprocity between people's rights and the duty of the state in the field of life and security is traditionally seen as the foundation of public society; moreover, it is the foundation of state authority and legitimacy," it affirmed.
"Therefore," the statement continued, "the authority to prescribe the protection of the right to life belongs originally to the state and is exercised within the framework of its sovereignty."