Ireland Compensates Woman For Trauma After She Was Forced To Travel To Britain For Abortion

The Irish government has offered to pay compensation, for the first time ever, to a woman who took her case to the United Nations about Ireland's anti-abortion law

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Earlier this year, two Irish women live-tweeted their journey to the UK for an abortion to shed light on the on-going injustice facing women in Ireland – a country in which the medical procedure remains illegal.

But yesterday, it appeared the tide was finally beginning to turn as, for the first time in Irish history, the government agreed to pay compensation to a woman after she was forced to obtain a termination in England.

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Pro-choice campaigners rejoiced at the news that the Fine Gael-led minority government has decided to pay over £25,000 in compensation to Amanda Mellet and her husband James, who had taken their legal case to the UN's Human Rights Committee, after Amanda was forced to obtain a abortion overseas.

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In November 2011, Mellet was 21-weeks pregnant when doctors informed her that her baby had congenital defects and would die in the womb or shortly after birth.

As a result, she travelled to Britain for a termination but had to return to Ireland 12 hours after the procedure as she could not afford to stay longer.

In 2013, she became the first of three Irish women to ask the UN to condemn Ireland's ban on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as 'cruel and inhumane'.

Under Ireland's anti-abortion law, terminations are only legal if the mother's life is in danger but isn't in cases of rape, incest and fetal anomaly. Therefore, if Mellet had stayed in the Republic, she would have been forced to give birth to a child who would be born dead.

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According to The Guardian, it's estimated that 'about 10 women a day' travel from to other countries in order to acquire a termination.

Ailbhe Smyth, chairwoman of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment (the band on abortion) told the newspaper: '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. This is long overdue acknowledgement of the profound denial of women's right to autonomy in this country.

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'The government must immediately ensure no other woman suffers similar human rights violations. The eighth amendment is a profound source of discrimination and national shame for Ireland.

'We cannot, as a country, continue to oversee the violation of women's human rights. We're saying that women deserve better and Ireland can do much better,' she added.

In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council ruled that Amanda Mellet's human rights had been violated and in forcing her to leave Ireland for an abortion, the state had inflicted unnecessary trauma and distress on her.

The UN also ordered the Government to ensure Mellet gets adequate psychological treatment as it was ruled she was denied the bereavement counseling and medical care available to women who miscarry.

So, could we soon witness Ireland changing its laws on abortion?

Well, Irish Labour party senator and campaigner for abortion reform, Ivana Bacik, says:

'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, due to the eighth amendment to the constitution.

'The UNHRC ruling in favour of Ms Mellet made clear the need for us to hold a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment,' he added.

Repeal the 8th.

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