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Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland , (14234/88) [1992] ECHR 68 (29 October 1992)

Facts: the applicants are two non profit organizations, Open Door Counselling Ltd. and Dublin Well Woman Centre Ltd. Neither organization advocated or encouraged abortion but provided information about pregnancy-related options. The Ireland Supreme Court imposed restrictions on the two applicant companies and prohibitedg them from providing information to pregnant women as to the location or identity of, or method of communication with, abortion clinics in Great Britain.

Complaint: the applicants claimed that the injunction violated Article 10 of the Convention (right to freedom of expression). The Government requested that the Court took into account article 2 of the Convention (right to life).

Holding: the ECHR held that the Ireland Supreme Court's injunction restraining counseling agencies from providing pregnant women with information concerning abortion facilities abroad violated Article 10 of the Convention. Article 2 did not apply.

Reasoning: the injunction interfered with the right of the applicants by preventing them to provide information about pregnancy-related options, and with the ability of women to receive information. Even if Ireland had a legitimate interest in protecting the life of the unborn, the injunction had a disproportionate impact, because it prohibited counseling regardless of the age, health, or circumstances of pregnant women and posed a health risk to women, who would likely terminate pregnancies at later stages without adequate counseling. The Court refused to take into account Article 2 of the Convention as required by the Government, since the applicants did not claim that the Convention contains a right to abortion, but merely that their right to provide and receive information concerning abortion abroad was at stake.




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