Abortion in Ireland


The Republic of Ireland has the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Abortion is generally against the law in Roman Catholic Ireland. A woman, however, may abort her unborn child if her life is in danger. Under which circumstances this can happen is unclear and most doctors do not take the risk of giving an opinion on how endangered the life of a pregnant woman may be.

The law goes back to 1861 when abortion became a crime in the United Kingdom. In 1967 abortion was legalized in Great Britain but not in independent Ireland. Since then thousands of women have travelled to England every year, where they can get an abortion before the 24th week of pregnancy.


In the past, two referendums to legalize abortion have been turned down by the Irish population. Although most younger people think that abortion should be legalized the older part of the population is still very conservative on the issue.

Recently the courts of the European Union have criticized Ireland for having such restrictive abortion laws. In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of a woman who had to go to England to get an abortion. The woman saw her life in danger because she was just recovering from a rare form of cancer and thought that she would die if she carried out the child.


Related Topics


  • abortion = a medical operation that kills an unborn baby
  • although = while
  • cancer = illness in which cells in your body grow in an uncontrolled way
  • carry o ut = to give birth to a baby
  • circumstance = situation
  • conservative = old fashioned, traditional
  • court = place where a trial is held or where legal matters are discussed
  • crime = something you do that is against the law
  • endanger = in danger
  • however = but
  • human rights = the basic rights that everybody should have , like the right to vote or the right to say what you want
  • in favor of = for something
  • independent = free
  • law = rules of a country
  • legalize = if you are allowed to do something
  • population = the people who live in a country
  • pregnancy = when a woman is pregnant
  • pregnant = when an unborn baby grows inside a woman’s body
  • rare = not very often
  • recover = to get better; to become healthy again
  • referendum = when people vote about a certain subject
  • restrictive = something that stops people from doing what they want
  • rule = to make a decision about something
  • turn down = to say no; not to allow