Government 'must take reform steps to comply with UN abortion-law ruling'

Government 'must take reform steps to comply with UN abortion-law ruling'
Leah Hoctor, third from left

The lawyer representing a woman who took a case to the United Nations over Ireland's abortion laws, says the case will only be settled when the Irish Government undertakes the necessary reforms.

Amanda Mellet took a case to the UN's Human Rights Committee after she travelled to the UK for an abortion when her baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality in 2011.

In June of this year, the committee found that Ms Mellet suffered discrimination and anguish over the fact that she had no other option than to travel to the UK for a termination.

Its report said Ireland's laws needed to be addressed after Ms Mellet was subjected to "severe emotional and mental pain" after being denied an abortion here.

The Citizens' Assembly is due to meet next month to discuss the prospect of a referendum to change our laws on abortion.

Ms Mellet's lawyer Leah Hoctor, who is also the regional director for Europe at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, said that although the Irish Government has acknowledged the UN's ruling, it has not yet taken the necessary steps to comply with its recommendations.

She said: "The committee held that Ireland is obliged under international law to make full reparations to Amanda for the violation she suffered. This means it must remedy those violations, must pay compensation to her...and offer rehabilitation to her through psychological treatment.

"(It also means) it must undertake law reform measures to ensure non-repitition of the violations Amanda endured."

The Irish Government has until December 6 to report back to the UN's Human Rights Committee about its abortion laws.

'Cruel, inhumane, degrading'

In 2011, while more than 20 weeks pregnant, Amanda Mellet visited the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, where she was told the foetus she was carrying had a fatal foetal abnormality and would die in utero or shortly after birth.

A doctor and a midwife both told her she could carry the baby to term, or she could travel.

Ms Mellet went to the UK for an abortion, and returned home 12 hours after the procedure as she could not afford to stay longer.

The UN committee ruled that this was a fundamental breach of her human rights, saying it was "cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment".

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