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UN Criticises Irish Abortion Regulations

Posted: June 17th, 2016

The United Nations’ Human Rights Committee has recently announced that the Irish government should alter the Eighth Amendment such that those carrying a foetus with fatal conditions will be allowed access to an abortion in Ireland.

Though there was a recent change to the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution – which protects the life of the unborn – in 2013 to allow terminations should it be seen that the mother’s life is at risk, there are still many cases in which an abortion is not allowed. For example, if the foetus has fatal abnormalities which will lead to a miscarriage or death shortly after birth, the mother is not allowed to abort. Additionally, the ban is enforced on pregnancies that are the result of incest or rape.

Many women are negatively affected by such restrictions – for example, Amanda Mellet was twenty-one weeks pregnant when she was told that her foetus would die either in utero or very shortly after its birth. Not wanting to endure either of these possibilities, Amanda decided to travel to the United Kingdom – a common destination for Irish women seeking abortions.

Amanda has testified that this was a very upsetting and traumatic experience, as she was not easily able to access information on the procedure before going to the UK. Additionally, she was not entitled to bereavement counselling after the termination took place.

Dissatisfied with her ordeal, Amanda decided to set up “Termination for Medical Reasons”, an organisation that campaigned for a change to Irish law. The organisation made a complaint to the UNHRC, claiming that the ban on terminations for medical reasons was cruel and degrading.

The committee found in Amanda’s favour, noting that her wellbeing was endangered by the law. They found that Amanda should be compensated for the State’s failure to allow her an abortion “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

The UN also recommended that Ireland should introduce laws, or modify existing ones, to ensure that women “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Categories: Personal Injury

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