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Written question No. 633 to the Committee of Ministers | Doc. 13181 | 23 April 2013

Does the European Convention on Human Rights set out a right to abortion?

By : Mr Luca VOLONTÈ, Italy, EPP/CD

The Council of Europe is being increasingly accused of liberalising abortion in countries such as Ireland and Poland. This is a serious allegation which requires clarification from the Committee of Ministers.

A reply is needed from the Committee of Ministers because this Committee decides on Council of Europe policy, is made up of representatives of the States Parties to the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter, and determines the requisite effective scope of the Court’s judgments when supervising their execution.

Mr Volontè,

To ask the Committee of Ministers:

  • Can the Committee of Ministers confirm that the Council of Europe is not committed to a policy of promoting access to abortion?
  • Can the Committee of Ministers, to the extent that it comprises representatives of the States Parties to the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter, confirm that it was never the intention of the authors of these instruments to establish a convention-based right to abortion?
For its part, the European Court of Human Rights has already specified that the European Convention on Human Rights does not comprise a right to abortion: the Convention does not secure the right to undergo an abortion, to practise abortion, or to help, with impunity, to ensure its practice abroad. The fact of a State banning abortion does not per se violate the Convention. The Court has established the principle that the right to respect for private life “cannot (…) be interpreted as enshrining a right to abortion”.