United Nations human-rights experts have declared Ireland’s ban on most abortions subjects women to “discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” and urged the country to amend its laws or constitution.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Committee said in a statement Thursday that independent experts had determined Ireland’s laws had subjected a woman named Amanda Mellet to such discrimination when she sought to get an abortion in 2011. Mellet learned during her 21st week of pregnancy that her fetus had congenital defects and would die in the womb or shortly after birth. Abortion is illegal in Ireland, except when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, which includes the risk of suicide. The law does not allow abortions in cases of incest, rape, congenital defects, or when it is known the fetus will not survive outside of the womb.
Mellet traveled to the United Kingdom to receive an abortion “and returned 12 hours after the procedure as she could not afford to stay longer,” the UN experts said. “The UK hospital did not provide any options regarding the fetus’s remains and she had to leave them behind. The ashes were unexpectedly delivered to her three weeks later by courier.”