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Ireland compensates woman forced to travel to Britain for an abortion

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Government agreed to pay compensation for trauma to Amanda Mellet after she was forced to obtain a termination of her pregnancy in England

Ireland has for the first time in its history compensated a woman for the trauma caused by forcing her to travel to Britain for an abortion.

Pro-choice campaigners in the Republic said the Fine Gael-led minority governments agreement on Wednesday to pay compensation to Amanda Mellet was highly significant.

Mellet and her husband James took their case all the way to the UNs Human Rights Committee after the couple were forced to obtain a termination of her pregnancy in England.

In 2013 Amanda Mellet became the first of three Irish women to formally ask the UN to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as cruel and inhumane.

Under Irelands strict anti-abortion laws, if Mellet and the other two women had remained in the Republic they would have been forced to give birth to babies who would be born dead.

Campaigners arguing for a referendum to repeal an amendment to the Irish constitution that gives full citizenship rights to the embryo after conception welcomed todays decision by the Dublin government.

Ailbhe Smyth, convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment and a longtime campaigner on reproductive rights, said: 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 womens right to autonomy in this country.

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. It is simply not good enough to pass the book to the Citizens Assembly and not make any commitment to undertake the necessary constitutional and legislative reforms to end, once and for all, Irelands violation of international human rights law and obligations under human rights conventions and treaties.

We cannot, as a country, continue to oversee the violation of womens human rights. Were saying that women deserve better and Ireland can do much better.

In June the UNHRC ruled that by forcing Amanda Mellet to leave Ireland for an abortion in Britain, the Irish state had inflicted trauma and distress on her.

Ivana Bacik, an Irish Labour party senator and long term campaigner for abortion reform in Ireland, said the governments decision to accept the UNHRC ruling was a crucial step towards changing Irelands abortion regime.

The Trinity College Dublin law lecturer said: The UN Human Rights Committees ruling in June of this year constituted an important acknowledgement that the highly restrictive Irish law on abortion violates the human rights of women. The governments acceptance of the ruling through the announcement of the compensation award, and Minister Harriss sincerity in apologising to Ms Mellet, are both welcome.

But 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.

Originally found athttp://www.theguardian.com/us