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(REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)
(REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

'Long overdue'

Irish government reimburses travel expenses to woman forced to travel to Britain for abortion

By WITW Staff on December 1, 2016

The government of Ireland has officially compensated and apologized to a woman who was forced to travel to Britain to undergo an abortion — a gesture that activists have called a first for the predominantly Catholic country.

Amanda Mellet, one of three Irish women who formally called upon the U.N. to condemn Ireland’s prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, went to Britain to obtain an abortion rather than be forced to give birth to a baby that would be born dead. In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council ruled in Mellet’s favor, finding that she had suffered “discrimination and anguish” as a result of Ireland’s harsh prohibition against abortion. Ireland’s Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has since apologized to Mellet and the government awarded her a settlement of more than $30,000.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time ever that the Irish government has compensated a woman for having to leave the country for an abortion,” said Ailbhe Smyth, a reproductive rights activist. “This is long overdue acknowledgement of the profound denial of women’s right to autonomy in this country.”

Ivana Bacik, an Irish Labor party senator and Trinity College Dublin law lecturer, suggested that Ireland’s decision to accept the UNHRC’s ruling could be a chance for activists to further push for legal access to abortion.

“The U.N. Human Rights Committee’s ruling in June of this year constituted an important acknowledgement that the highly restrictive Irish law on abortion violates the human rights of women,” said Bacik. “But we need now to see official recognition that thousands of other women are being denied their basic human rights through being denied access to legal abortion in Ireland.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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