Press Release

ACTION PLAN A, B, and C v. Ireland Application no 25579/2005, Grand Chamber judgment 16th December 2010, Information submitted by the Government of Ireland on 16th June 2011


1.Three applicants, A,B and C, all of whom had crisis pregnancies, brought proceedings against Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights claiming that:

a) The restriction on abortion, and the lack of clear legal guidelines regarding the circumstances in which a woman may have an abortion to save her life in Ireland infringes upon the woman’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

b) The restriction on abortion in this jurisdiction stigmatised and humiliated the applicants and risked damaging their health in breach of Article 3 of the Convention;

c) National law on abortion in Ireland is not sufficiently clear and precise, contrary to Article 8 of the Convention;

d) The restriction on abortion in Ireland is discriminatory, contrary to Article 14 of the Convention, in that it places an excessive burden on the women and particularly on the first applicant who is of very limited means and it is alleged, had found it more difficult to travel; and

e) Ireland had breached Article 13 of the Convention in that the State had failed to provide the applicants with an effective domestic remedy.

2. In its judgment delivered on 16th December 2010 the Grand Chamber determined that there had been no violation of the Convention in relation to the first and second applicants, Ms. A and Ms. B.

3. The Grand Chamber determined that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention in relation to applicant Ms. C and awarded the applicant €15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable.

4. Ireland is committed to ensuring that the judgment in this case is implemented expeditiously. The judgment highlights the lack of effective and accessible rules in relation to the application of Article 40.3.3. This must now be addressed, while, as the Court also acknowledged, implementation of Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution on the protection of the unborn is a sensitive and complex task.

Publication and dissemination of the judgment

5. Having regard to the need to ensure that domestic authorities are rapidly informed of the Court’s judgment the Department of Health, responsible for reproductive health policy, is fully aware of the judgment and has transmitted it to all relevant Government Departments and Offices.

6.A copy of the judgment was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on the 7th of June 2011 (House of Representatives and Senate). Links to the judgment are available on the following web-sites:

Department of Health and Children web-site

Department of Foreign Affairs web-site at:

7. The judgment was also covered extensively in the national media and in the Law Society Gazette, a publication of the Law Society of Ireland and distributed to its members, generally comprised of practising solicitors.

8. Ireland considers that nothing further is required as regards publication and dissemination of the judgment.

Individual measures

9. The Court ordered that the Respondent pay €15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage (plus any tax chargeable) to the third applicant. Ireland paid to the applicant’s chosen representative the sum of €15,000 and receipt has been acknowledged and confirmed with the Secretariat.

10. Ireland considers that there are no further individual measures required.

General measures

Article 8

1. In response to this judgment the Government will establish an expert group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.

12. It is intended that the Expert Group will be established by November 2011.

13. Following the recommendations from the Expert Group, proposals will be drafted and transmitted to Government for approval. 14. An Action Report will be filed outlining the Expert Group’s detailed terms of reference, membership and meeting schedule by the end of 2011.