Ireland: Amnesty challenges Sipo order to return abortion campaign donation

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Amnesty challenges Sipo order to return abortion campaign donation
Group says €137,000 payment from Open Society Foundations not for political purposes

Feb 12, 2018
Aodhan O'Faolain

Amnesty International’s Irish section has challenged an order by the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) requiring it to return a €137,000 donation to its campaign to hold a referendum on the State’s abortion laws.

The donation was made in August 2015 by the Swiss-based Open Society Foundations (OSF), founded by billionaire George Soros, for the “My Body, My Rights” campaign, which involved organising events and seminars for politicians prior to the 2016 general election.

Continued: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/amnesty-challenges-sipo-order-to-return-abortion-campaign-donation-1.3389577

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From Linda Kavanagh to Tracy Harkin: A guide to who’s who in Ireland’s divisive abortion debate

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From Linda Kavanagh to Tracy Harkin: A guide to who's who in Ireland's divisive abortion debate
With Ireland's landmark referendum on the Eighth Amendment looming, voices on both sides of the abortion debate are getting ­ louder. But who exactly is lining out?

John Meagher
February 4 2018

It has been a momentous week for campaigners on both sides of the great abortion debate as it was finally confirmed that a referendum would be held this summer. Friday, May 25, is thought to be the most likely day for the referendum, one that pro-choice supporters hope will forever lift the ban on abortion.

But despite a series of opinion polls that indicate that the majority of the country wants change, the pro-life side believes a large cohort of people opposed to abortion have not had their voices heard.

Continued: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/abortion-referendum/from-linda-kavanagh-to-tracy-harkin-a-guide-to-whos-who-in-irelands-divisive-abortion-debate-36558195.html

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Ireland: Standards commission explains why George Soros’ donation to fund Amnesty abortion campaign was illegal

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Standards commission explains why George Soros' donation to fund Amnesty abortion campaign was illegal
The law bans any foreign donations that aren’t from an Irish citizen who resides outside the island.

Dec 13, 2017

THE STANDARDS IN Public Office Commission (SIPO) has explained why it ordered Amnesty International to return a donation made by billionaire George Soros for its My Body My Rights campaign.

Sipo said current legislation governing donations to political groups forces those who receive donations over €100 to register as a third-party. The Electoral Act also bans foreign donations from an individual other than an Irish citizen who resides outside the island of Ireland – meaning Soros’ €137,000 donation did not meet the criteria for an acceptable donation.

Continued at source: http://www.thejournal.ie/george-soros-banned-3748738-Dec2017/

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Ireland: Amnesty welcomes Sinn Féin Ard Fheis policy change on access to abortion

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Amnesty welcomes Sinn Féin Ard Fheis policy change on access to abortion
Nov 18, 2017

Amnesty International has welcomed today’s passing of a motion at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis which extends the party’s support for abortion access to when a woman or girl’s physical or mental health is at risk.

The motion also reasserts their opposition to the criminalisation of women who make the decision to have an abortion. It also commits the party to developing a women’s health policy, which takes into consideration the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on access to abortion in the Republic of Ireland.

Continued at source: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/amnesty-welcomes-sinn-fein-ard-fheis-policy-change-access-abortion

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Ireland: Majority would support abortion on demand, says Amnesty poll

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Majority would support abortion on demand, says Amnesty poll
Red C Poll finds 85% of people support abortion choice if pregnancy is result of rape

Oct 31, 2017
Kitty Holland

A majority of people would support abortion on demand, a poll commissioned by Amnesty International and published on Wednesday has found.

The Red C Poll of 1,000 adults, conducted by telephone between October 16th and 19th, found that 60 per cent of people believe women should have abortion on demand, either outright or within gestational limits.

Its findings, said executive director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman, show the public strongly support “women making their own decisions about their pregnancies”.

Continued at source: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/majority-would-support-abortion-on-demand-says-amnesty-poll-1.3275762

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Ireland: Amnesty International welcomes Citizens’ Assembly report as road map for abortion reform

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Amnesty International welcomes Citizens’ Assembly report as road map for abortion reform
29th June 2017

Amnesty International reiterates need for access on request at least in early pregnancy to ensure a human rights compliant abortion framework

Amnesty International today welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly in the report written by its Chair, Justice Mary Laffoy. In April, members of the Citizens’ Assembly called for expansive reform of Ireland’s abortion laws. In addition to overwhelming backing for the removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, they voted by a two-thirds majority for access to abortion on request at least in early pregnancy, and by even greater majorities for later gestational limits in specific circumstances.

Continued at source: Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.ie/amnesty-international-welcomes-citizens-assembly-report-road-map-abortion-reform/

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Ireland: As Oireachtas Committee meets for the first time, Amnesty International calls for access to abortion on request in early pregnancy.

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As Oireachtas Committee meets for the first time, Amnesty International calls for access to abortion on request in early pregnancy.

20th June 2017

Amnesty International has reiterated its call for access to abortion on request in early pregnancy following a news report that two women who had attempted suicide were initially denied access to abortion services in Ireland before finally being deemed eligible. The cases outlined by the Abortion Support Network (ASN) and reported in The Times involved two immigrant women who did not have the required visas to travel to the UK. This report comes just one week after an adolescent girl was detained under mental health legislation rather than provided with an abortion under the suicide ground of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

Continued at source: Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.ie/distressing-cases-highlight-flaws-grounds-based-abortion-legislation/

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Citizens’ Assembly to be balloted on abortion recommendations

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Citizens’ Assembly to be balloted on abortion recommendations
Members will vote on the advice they will give to Government on Eighth Amendment

Mon, Mar 6, 2017
by Ronan McGreevy

(Summary: The Citizens Assembly in Ireland will present three main options to the government: To retain the eighth amendment as is, to repeal it, and to retain it but insert amendments.)

Members of the Citizens’ Assembly will be balloted next month on recommendations that they will give to the Government on the future of the constitutional amendment on abortion.

The 99 members will agree on the issues to be included in a ballot, and on the precise wording of the ballot, and that will be voted on, assembly chairwomanMs Justice Mary Laffoy said.

Continued at source: Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/citizens-assembly-to-be-balloted-on-abortion-recommendations-1.2998919

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Ireland: Amnesty International “deeply concerned” at BAI ruling on abortion discussion

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21st December 2016, Amnesty International

Reports that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has upheld a complaint against The Ray Darcy Show on RTE Radio One and will issue the programme with a warning are deeply concerning, said Amnesty International Ireland today. The complaint was made in response to an interview with Gaye and Gerry Edwards who appeared on the show to share their personal experience of an abortion following a fatal foetal impairment diagnosis.

“The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has a responsibility to ensure that broadcasting serves the public interest, including people’s right to seek information. Decisions like what has been reported today do not serve that function, and are deeply unhelpful,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.

[continued at link]
Source: Amnesty International

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Ireland: Public support for greater abortion access is overwhelming

The apology from Minister for Health Simon Harris to Amanda Mellet (centre) was an important moment. Hopefully it indicates that the Government fully accepts the UN committee’s decision, and will act upon it without equivocation. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

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The Eighth Amendment needs to go, and a legal and healthcare framework put in place that respects women’s and girls’ rights

Thu, Jul 7, 2016, 01:00

Colm O'Gorman

In 2011, Amanda Mellet was denied an abortion in Ireland after learning her pregnancy had a fatal foetal impairment. She travelled to the UK to undergo the procedure. She endured 36 hours of labour and, because she couldn’t afford to stay overnight, travelled home still bleeding. A few weeks later she received her daughter’s ashes by courier.

Represented by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, Amanda filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee arguing that Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws violated her human rights.

In a damning decision, the committee found that Ireland’s laws prohibiting abortion subjected Amanda to “intense physical and mental suffering”; that Ireland’s criminalisation of abortion caused her shame and stigma, and her suffering was intensified by the barriers preventing access to information about her healthcare options; that Amanda had been subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and that her right to privacy had been violated.

The committee found that women in Ireland who continue with their pregnancies after a fatal foetal impairment diagnosis receive public healthcare and health insurance cover. In contrast, women such as Amanda who decide not to continue with their pregnancies must bear the full financial, emotional and physical burden of Ireland’s abortion ban. This, the UN committee found, is discriminatory. It called on the Irish Government to act promptly and effectively to redress the harm she suffered, and to reform its laws so no other woman would ever have to face a similar ordeal.

Last week Mick Wallace TD introduced a Bill to permit abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. During a debate on that Bill, Minister for Health Simon Harris made a heartfelt apology to Amanda Mellet. It was an important moment. We hope it indicates that the Government fully accepts the UN decision, and will act upon it without equivocation.

It should go without saying that Amanda deserved better than to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; that women living in Ireland must be treated with dignity and respect. And yet for some, albeit a tiny minority, the treatment imposed on Amanda by this State is acceptable. They stand over laws that violate the human rights of women and girls, which brutalise and criminalise them. Some even celebrate them.

Human rights law

I accept that many of those opposed to abortion do so because of deeply held principle, and I respect their right to voice their objection. Many believe that life begins at the point of conception and from that point forward, the foetus is entitled to the same protection as a born woman. However, that view has no basis in international human rights law. Yet it is enshrined in our Constitution.

The Eighth Amendment is the root cause of Amanda’s brutal treatment and the human rights violations experienced by women and girls in Ireland every day.

The purpose of international human rights law – a system of treaties and supervisory committees created by states, including Ireland – is to ensure that all people are afforded a minimum level of protection of a defined set of human rights. These human rights supersede domestic laws, which are often based on ideologies and prejudices. Therefore, respect for human rights can never be subject to the vagaries of public opinion or politics. And a state’s constitution can never be an excuse for human rights abuses.

At it happens though, abortion is no longer a divisive issue in Ireland. In February, we conducted a national Red C poll on attitudes to abortion. It found 87 per cent of people want expanded access to abortion. Across all regions, demographics and social groups, people in Ireland want change. Just 5 per cent are personally opposed to abortion in all circumstances, and of those, half would still vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Sadly we don’t see this level of consensus reflected in the media discourse. Too often discussion of abortion is derailed by aggressive and personalised condemnation of those seeking progress. This approach serves only those who want to close down public discussion and maintain the status quo. It also does real damage.

Imagine you are journalist trying to do your job, objectively and responsibly, but you know that every word is pored over looking for an opportunity to charge bias, and the inevitable deluge of abuse. Imagine you are a politician, wanting to navigate this issue and legislate effectively, while fearing abuse or even pickets outside your home.

Most importantly, imagine you are a woman or girl who has had an abortion, or who needs one. Imagine that, in the media’s telling of a story much like yours, space is given to groups asserting that you should be forced to continue with that pregnancy. Imagine hearing an endless back-and-forth over the binding nature of UN decisions, rather than an emphatic demand that the human rights violations found must be ended.

Political support for change

Today the Dáil will vote on Mick Wallace’s Bill. Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain. There is now very considerable political support for change. The international human rights framework Ireland helped create is also clear. The Eighth Amendment needs to go, and a legal and healthcare framework put in its place that respects women’s and girls’ rights.

The Government has decided to convene a citizens’ assembly to consider the Eighth Amendment. We are not convinced this is necessary. However, if the Government proceeds with this plan, it must mandate the assembly to expand access to abortion, not maintain the status quo. It must ensure that women’s human rights, health and medical best practice are key benchmarks and guiding principles for the assembly. It must reassure many who are rightly cynical about this move, given the failure to progress important recommendations made by the last constitutional convention.

Last week Minister Simon Harris said, “Ireland’s history shows that it has been in the past a cold and uncaring place for women.” Now he and his colleagues in Government must act to ensure that we finally consign that shameful fact to history.

Colm O’Gorman is executive director of Amnesty International Ireland

Source: Irish Times

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