Woman at centre of UN report on Ireland's abortion laws hopes Govt has 'courage to change law'

Woman at centre of UN report on Ireland's abortion laws hopes Govt has 'courage to change law'
(Left to right) Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Evelyn Geraghty, Counselling Director, Irish Family Planning Association, Leah Hoctor, regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights, Katrine Thomasen, legal adviser for Europe for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Niamh Allen, Head of Membership Development, National Women’s Council of Ireland and Ailbhe Smyth, convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment at a press conference today. Pic: Marc O'Sullivan.

The woman at the centre of a United Nations report slamming Ireland's abortion laws says she hopes the Government will have the courage to change the law.

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

In 2011, while more than 20 weeks pregnant, Amanda Mellet visited the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

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".

In a statement this evening Amanda Mellet said: "The ruling serves to uphold the rights of other Irish women who face human rights violations."

She says she hopes "the Government will have the courage to change the law, so Irish women can access abortion services on health grounds in their own country".

The committee has ruled that Ms Mellett needs to be provided with a remedy which may include compensation and psychological treatment.

Crucially it says Ireland is obliged to prevent this happening to other women, and the Government has 180 days to address the findings.

Ms Mellet's full statement:

"I am profoundly grateful to the Human Rights Committee for its decision and its clear recognition that my human rights were violated as a result of Ireland’s prohibition and criminalization of abortion.

"The decision not only vindicates my rights. It also serves to uphold the rights of many other women in Ireland who have faced and continue to face human rights violations under the current legal regime. The Human Rights Committee has made it clear that to redress the violations that I suffered, the Irish Government must ensure that other women do not live through similar violations of their rights. This cannot happen until Article 40.3.3 is repealed, until abortion is decriminalised and legislation is adopted to enable women to access services in Ireland.

"With today’s decision in hand, I wish to finally leave behind these painful memories; and hearing the Committee’ findings today does help in my own healing, but my most sincere hope is that it may assist Ireland’s government in finding the courage to make the necessary changes in law. I hope the day will soon come when women in Ireland will be able to access the health services they need in our own country, where we can be with our loved ones, with our own medical team, and where we have our own familiar bed to go home and cry in. Subjecting women to so much additional pain and trauma simply must not continue.

"Finally, I ask that the media respect my wish for privacy for myself and my husband James, who has supported me every step of the way."


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