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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Abortion in England for pregnant Irish teenager whose unborn baby has a rare brain condition which is fatal?

Irish court battle over teenager's abortion right - Guardian


"A pregnant 17-year-old in state care in Ireland began a court battle yesterday to be allowed to travel to England for an abortion, as the country's failure to resolve the ambiguities in its abortion laws threatened to erupt into a constitutional crisis.

The teenager, who is four months into the pregnancy, is seeking an abortion because the baby has got a rare brain condition and will not live more than three days after birth, she has been told.

Identified only as Miss D, the teenager has been in the care of Ireland's health service executive (HSE), since February.

The government agency has overruled her wish for an abortion in Britain. The young woman's father is absent and her mother's behaviour had led to earlier court proceedings.

Abortion in this predominantly Catholic country, where the influence of the church has gradually weakened, remains illegal, with the ban on it written into the constitution. Abortions can only be performed if there is a substantial risk to the mother's life, which includes the threat of suicide. The law does not permit abortion on grounds of foetal abnormality.

Most women seeking an abortion go to England for the operation. Successive complex cases have led to hearings at the European court of human rights and several divisive national referenda."

"Mary Muldowney, of the Alliance for Choice, which campaigns for safe, free, legal abortion in Ireland, has accused the government of hypocrisy. "The HSE must retract their callous approach to [Miss] D's tragic case and facilitate her choice for a termination," Ms Muldowney said. "She cannot afford any further delay and the Irish people will not thank the HSE or the government for again brutalising a young woman in their name.""

"Doctors say the baby suffers from anencephaly, a condition where the front part of the brain is missing. The condition is detected through blood screening. Such children are normally blind, deaf, and unconscious. The high court in Dublin has been told that life expectancy would be somewhere between several hours and, at the maximum, three days."

Since 2002, three teenagers in care have been allowed to go abroad for terminations.

But the republic's abortion laws have never been fully clarified. As long ago as 1992, a supreme court judge warned that the failure to introduce proper legislation was "inexcusable"."