Ireland compensates woman forced to travel for abortion

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The Irish government has paid an Irish national after the woman had to travel to the UK to have an abortion. Amanda Mellet had taken her case to the UN’s human rights committee after being forced to travel to the UK to have an abortion. It’s been confirmed the minority Fine Gael government has offered 30,000 euros to Mrs Mellet. She was met by Minister for health Simon Harris, who offered her the compensation. It’s believed that Mrs Mellet’s travel to the hospital in Liverpool was around 3,000 euros. She returned to Ireland the same day.

In 2013 Mellet became one of three women to approach the UN, asking them to denounce the ban on abortions in the case of abnormalities as “cruel and inhumane”. Under Ireland’s laws Mellet would’ve been forced to deliver a dead child. She was pregnant in 2011, and at 21 weeks she learned that the fetus had congenital heart defects and would be unlikely to make it to full term, and wouldn’t live long after if it did make it to term. The condition is known as Edward’s syndrome and is the most common cause of in utero death. Of the low numbers that will make it to term few last long after birth.

Ireland has extremely strict laws to prevent abortion in the country. But there are moves to change this, there’s been strong support for a referendum on dropping citizenship rights for embryo’s. A spokeswoman for the Coalition to repeal the eight amendment stated that “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that the Irish government has compensated a woman for having to leave the country for an abortion”.

The payment comes following the UNHCR ruling in favour of Mellet, and that by forcing her to leave Ireland to have an abortion, the state had inflicted trauma and distress on her. It appears to many that this ruling, and the government’s willingness to be bound by it is the first step on a path to the laws regarding abortions in the state to at least be relaxed if not changed altogether. Though in a counter statement publicised through their Twitter account the Pro life campaign said “Anyone undergoing a crisis pregnancy should be treated with the utmost respect and compassion at all times, but I have to question why the Government is taking its direction from the particular UN body that has a track record, for example, of refusing to criticise countries like England where babies who survive abortions are left to die without receiving any loving care from hospital staff.” You can read the statement here.

It certainly appears that this contentious and highly emotive issue isn’t going to be resolved quickly, but it does appear that this may be an early step in the fight against the laws.

About Joseph Thornton:
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.