10.The Committee recalls its previous observation (A/60/38, part two, para. 382) and regrets that the existing discriminatory provision contained in article 41.2 of the Constitution, which perpetuates traditional stereotypical views of the social roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society at large, has not been amended. The Committee is also concerned that:
(a)The interpretation of article 40.1 of the Constitution is focused on procedural rather than substantive equality; and
(b)Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution (also known as the Eighth Amendment), which protects the right to life of the unborn and therefore unduly restricts access to abortion, has not been amended.
11. The Committee urges the State party to, within a specific time frame:
(a) Amend article 41.2 of the Constitution in order to remove the stereotypical language on the role of women in the home;
(b) Introduce legislative provisions that underline the obligation of the State to pursue actively the achievement of substantive equality between women and men;
(c) Amend article 40.3.3 of the Constitution (also known as the Eighth Amendment), which impedes the introduction of amendments to current legislation governing access to abortion.
42.The Committee welcomes the steps taken by the State party to improve health care for women and girls in the State party. The Committee is concerned that access to abortion in the State party is restricted to cases where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013, which was enacted following the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A, B and C v Ireland, and that this exception is interpreted in a very restrictive manner. The Committee is also concerned that under the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State For Termination of Pregnancies) Act of 1995, the provision of information by health-care providers that advocates and promotes the option of abortion is criminal. The Committee is particularly concerned that owing to this restrictive legal regime:
(a)Abortion in all cases other than where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman is criminal and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment;
(b)Women and girls are compelled to travel outside the State party to obtain an abortion in countries where it is legally available on wider grounds;
(c)Women and girls without means to travel outside the State party to obtain an abortion, such as poor women, asylum seekers and migrant women and girls, may be compelled to carry their pregnancies to full term or to undertake unsafe abortion, which may lead to severe mental pain and suffering;
(d) Health-care providers and pregnancy counsellors cannot freely provide information on abortion for fear of being prosecuted for violating the Regulation of Information Act of 1995.
43. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Repeal the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 in order to legalize the termination of pregnancy at least in cases of rape, incest, risk to the physical or mental health or life of the pregnant woman, and severe impairment of the foetus, and decriminalize abortion in all other cases;
(b) Intensify the implementation of health programmes, including awareness-raising programmes, to ensure the availability, accessibility and use of modern contraceptives, in line with general recommendation No. 24 (1999) on women and health;
(c) Repeal the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State For Termination of Pregnancies) Act of 1995 in order to ensure free access to sexual and reproductive health information and education, and that health-care providers, physicians and pregnancy counsellors do not operate under a constant fear that their services may be subject to criminal investigation and prosecution;
(d) Ensure the provision of post-abortion health-care services for women irrespective of whether they have undergone an illegal or legal abortion.