Clinton Pressured To Address Abortion While In Ireland

An open letter from Irish and American activists is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address Ireland’s abortion laws during her visit today and tomorrow.

The renewed look at Ireland’s abortion laws come in the aftermath of the tragic death of an Indian citizen living in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar, due to complications from her pregnancy and the refusal of her hospital to perform an abortion. Ireland maintains some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, but has pledged to reexamine them following global interest in Halappanavar’s story.

Hoping to keep the pressure up on Ireland, a group called Savita’s Laws has issued the letter, open for signature to all on the Internet, lobbying Clinton to speak out:

Otherwise, Ireland will continue to be in clear violation of its international obligations on human rights, despite having committed, during its recent successful campaign for membership of the UN Human Rights Council, to the full promotion of such rights in its domestic policy. Deeming this to be a matter of urgent concern both on an Irish and international scale, we would ask, Madam Secretary, that you might consider addressing this very real and present danger to the lives and health of pregnant women during your visit to Ireland this week. The Irish government must take the right decision to protect the rights of women in Ireland, and it should do so without further delay.

Clinton has spent a large portion of her time at Foggy Bottom crusading for enhancing the rights of girls and women globally. In 2011, Clinton told Newsweek, “I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” Even before her stint as Secretary of State, Clinton was well-known for her declaration that “women’s rights are human rights” during her time as First Lady.

Clinton, who will be leaving the State Department shortly, maintains a stable of goodwill in Ireland, due to her husband’s role in negotiating a peace treaty ending violent struggle in the north. Whether she will use this position to speak out while in Dublin remains to be seen.