Payment for denied abortion ‘shows State culpability’

The offer of compensation to a woman, who successfully made a case to the United Nations about Ireland’s abortion laws, is a recognition by the State that she was subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment because she was forced to travel to seek an abortion, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NCWI) has said.

However, the NWCI also stated the Government needs to set a date for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, instead of just continuing to compensate women.

Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday the Government was offering a payment of €30,000 and appropriate psychological services to Amanda Mellet.

Ms Mellet filed a case with the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) at the end of 2013, after she was forced to travel to Liverpool for an abortion when her foetus was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality on its 21-week scan in November 2011.

The UN committee ruled last June that Ms Mellet had been subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” as a result of Ireland’s abortion ban.

It made three recommendations: that Ms Mellet be compensated; that she be offered rehabilitation; and that the law in Ireland be reformed.

“The actions by the minister today have a wider significance.

“It’s an admission that the Government is failing women in Ireland in a horrendous manner and subjecting them to what is now recognised as inhumane and degrading treatment,” Orla O’Connor, director of NWCI said.

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