Woman forced to travel abroad for termination says her rights have been vindicated by groundbreaking judgment
A woman with a non-viable pregnancy who was forced to travel abroad for a termination has welcomed a UN ruling that her human rights were violated by Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.
The landmark judgment found that Amanda Mellet was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in being obliged to choose between carrying her foetus to term, knowing it would not survive, or seeking an abortion abroad.
Ms Mellet was told in November 2011 that the 21-week-old foetus had congenital defects, which meant it would die in the womb or shortly after birth.
She travelled to the UK for a termination and returned 12 hours after the procedure as she could not afford to stay longer.
The UN's human rights committee said she had to leave the foetus' remains behind at the hospital where she was treated. The ashes were unexpectedly delivered to her three weeks later by courier.
UN experts found she was also denied the bereavement counselling and medical care available to women who miscarry in Ireland. Such treatment failed to take into account her medical needs and constituted discrimination, the committee said.
The ruling called on Ireland to provide Ms Mellet with adequate compensation and any psychological treatment she may need, and prevent similar violations from taking place.
The woman at the centre of the case said in a statement that the decision has vindicated her rights and those of many other women in Ireland.
Her response is published here in full:
"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 criminalisation 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"This cannot happen until Article 40.3.3 [also known as the Eight Amendment] is repealed, until abortion is decriminalised and legislation is adopted to enable women to access services in Ireland.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’s 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."