• In the case of Spuc v Grogan [1991] ECR i-4685, the strength of the connection between national laws and EU legislation/treaties was explored.

Facts of Case C-159/90 SPUC v Grogan [1991] ECR i-4685

  • Three Irish student organisations posted the information of several abortion clinics in Great Britain which included their names, addresses and numbers.
  • The 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution protects the right to life of an unborn child; using this, SPUC claimed the groups violated it
  • The Irish courts sided with SPUC, saying that it was illegal to assist a pregnant woman in travelling for an abortion and this assistance included publishing the details of abortion clinics pregnant women could visit
  • The organisations believed their activities were protected by EEC Treaty’s Articles 59 and 60, and their fundamental right to expression should have been protected
  • These concerns were brought to to the European Court of Justice

Issues in Case C-159/90 SPUC v Grogan [1991] ECR i-4685

  • Were the Irish courts correct in their findings that the organisations were guilty of such illegal activity? Or,
  • Were the student groups in the right, and their rights were protected under EU treaty?

Held by the European Court of Justice

Neither the Articles under the EEC Treaty nor were fundamental rights violated by the national laws in question.

  • Although abortion was a service within Article 50, and people were free to obtain such, the link between the groups providing information and the clinics was so tenuous that the organisations’ activities could not come under the Treaty Articles.

Findings of the court

Article 60 of the EEC Treaty

  • “that medical termination of pregnancy, performed in accordance with the law of the State in which it is carried out, constitutes a service within the meaning of Article 60 of the Treaty” [21]

Is it contrary to Community law for a Member State where such act is forbidden to prohibit student groups from distributing information of clinics (who have no involvement) in other Member States where is it not?

Article 59 of the EEC Treaty

  • “in any event, a prohibition on the distribution of information in circumstances such as those which are the subject of the main proceedings cannot be regarded as a restriction within the meaning of Article 59 of the Treaty” [27]

Article 62 of the EEC Treaty

  • “Article 62, which is complementary to Article 59, cannot prohibit restrictions which do not fall within the scope of Article 59.” [29]

Freedom of expression, freedom to receive and impart information, Article 10(1) ECHR

  • “it is not contrary to Community law for a Member State in which medical termination of pregnancy is forbidden to prohibit students associations from distributing information about the identity and location of clinics in another Member State where voluntary termination of pregnancy is lawfully carried out and the means of communicating with those clinics, where the clinics in question have no involvement in the distribution of the said information.” [32]