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UN Calls for Reform to Irish Abortion Laws

Posted: June 16th, 2016

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has recently stated that the Irish government should compensate a woman for the ordeal she endured to access an abortion, as well as calling for reform of the restrictive laws.

These criticisms come in spite of changes to the Eighth Amendment – which protects the right to life of the unborn – that were introduced in 2013. Under the new regulations, women may access terminations if it can be shown that their health is put at risk by the pregnancy.  However, this applies to a limited number of cases and there are still many instances in which terminations are illegal. These include fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

With such restrictive laws, many Irish women will choose to travel abroad for treatment. Amanda Mellet was once such woman – at twenty-one weeks, she learned that her foetus had abnormalities that would inevitable lead to a miscarriage or death shortly after birth. Amanda did not want to endure either scenario, and travelled to the United Kingdom – a common destination for those in similar situations – for treatment.

Amanda has since testified that her experience was traumatic and upsetting. The regulations meant that it was hard to access information on the procedure before she left, and it prevented her from seeking bereavement counselling upon her return. Amanda then decided to start “Termination for Medical Reasons”, an campaign that fights for changes to Irish law. The organisation has even gone to the UN Human Rights Committee, arguing that claims that the current laws are cruel, discriminatory, inhuman and degrading.

The Human Rights Committee ruled in Amanda’s favour, finding that the current laws put Amanda’s health and wellbeing at risk.The committee called for the a settlement of compensation to be paid to Amanda, as she underwent necessary financial and emotional suffering because of the government’s failure to provide terminations “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

The United Nations went further in their criticisms of the State, saying that the government should consider revising the Eighth Amendment to allow “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Categories: Personal Injury Accidents

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