Abortion rights

U.N. says Ireland’s abortion ban violated pregnant woman’s human rights

Pro-Choice supporters hold placards in front of the gates of the Irish Parliament building in Dublin on July 10, 2013. (Photo credit should read PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

An Irish woman who was 21 weeks pregnant when she found out her fetus had deadly congenital defects and was forced to go abroad to have an abortion had her rights violated by Ireland’s strict abortion ban, a United Nations human rights panel said on Thursday. The committee had been tasked with studying Ireland’s abortion ban, focusing on the case of  Dublin resident Amanda Mellet, who went to England for 12 hours for an abortion and then returned because she was unable to afford to stay any longer.

The committee said that the abortion ban forced Mellet to choose “between continuing her nonviable pregnancy or traveling to another country while carrying a dying fetus, at personal expense and separated from the support of her family, and to return while not fully recovered,” the committee said.

“In addition to the shame and stigma associated with the criminalization of abortion of a fatally ill fetus,” Mellet’s “suffering was aggravated by the obstacles she faced in getting information about the appropriate medical options,” the committee said.

More than 3,400 Irish women and girls traveled to England and Wales for abortions in 2015, according to The New York Times. The committee released a strongly-worded condemnation of Ireland’s ban, saying the law was subjecting women to cruel, degrading, and discriminatory treatment. The U.N. urged the country to change its laws so that women are allowed to undergo abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities and medical providers are able to give information on abortions without “fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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