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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 August 2005, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Irish abortion plea in Strasbourg
By James Helm
BBC correspondent in Dublin

Image of a pregnant woman
Every year thousands of Irish women go abroad for abortions
Three Irish women are taking Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights over their country's laws on abortion.

The Irish Family Planning Association is supporting the case of the women, who have all had abortions in the UK within the past year.

The association estimates that 6,000 Irish women travel to the UK each year to have abortions.

Under Irish law, abortion remains illegal unless the mother's life would be in real danger without it.

The Irish Family Planning Association says it is campaigning to make abortion safe and legal in Ireland, and it will meet political leaders to discuss the matter over the next few weeks.

The three women, who have not been named, claim Ireland's laws violate articles within the European Convention on Human Rights, and that Irish law on abortion "jeopardises their health and well-being".

The campaign was criticised by groups opposed to abortion in what is a predominantly Roman Catholic country.

There have been some calls for a fresh referendum aimed at preventing the government from changing the law on abortion, although the government says it has no plans to introduce any legislation on what is a highly sensitive issue.

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