In the Blog

Ireland denies 17-year-old right to abort - or travel

May 3rd, 2007     by Zoe Cormier     Comments

Thank you to Anna for telling us about Women on Waves - thank god they are out there.

Already I can think of one woman (or, girl, rather) who could use their help: a 17-year-old in Ireland is unable to get an abortion in her own country, and the Irish government has denied her wish to travel to England for an abortion. And, as the girl is in the care of the state due to her financial status, they have denied her the right to travel. Anywhere. Period.

Ireland is renowned for being pretty backwards - they only legalized divorce in 1995 - so this hardly comes as a surprise.

But what makes this case so reprehensible is that the girl - known only as Miss D - is pregnant with a baby that has a fatal brain abnormality: doctors say it will live at most, a few days, although more likely, just a few hours. Nothing can be done to prevent its death - and forcing her to carry it to term will only increase her suffering.

In Ireland, abortions are only permitted if the life of the mother is threatened (including cases where suicide is a possibility). And they mean it - in 1992 a 14-year-old - who had been raped - was denied an abortion, and then only allowed to travel abroad because she was considered at risk for suicide. A few other teenagers since then have been allowed to travel to England for abortions, but they are the rare, rare exceptions to an archaic rule.

This whole debacle is almost sure to result in a constitutional show-down in the courts that will see Ireland’s abortion laws, if not relaxed, possibly clarified. But only possibly.

…I am literally at a loss for words. I cannot think of anything to say that expresses my rage, disgust, and sadness for the young women of that nation, and worldwide who find themselves in such horrible predicaments.

Canada deserves some credit: not only are abortions fully legal and accessible, with no questions asked or sticky legal loopholes, they are free. So teenagers like Miss D, without the $500 necessary to pay for one, should never find themselves in her desperate situation.

Tags: body politics, news flash

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