The strict legal ban on abortion in the Republic of Ireland has been challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, in a case that will be closely watched by other Catholic countries. Three women are challenging the ban, which can lead to life imprisonment for those who breach it, on the ground that the unconditional protection afforded to the “life of the unborn” jeopardises their own human rights during pregnancy. The challenge has been supported by British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes International, as well as the Irish Family Planning Association. No ruling is expected until later in the year.