Woman in abortion battle faces the public

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The Independent Online
Lynne Kelly, the 14-weeks pregnant woman who is fighting a court battle against her estranged husband over the future of their unborn child, came out of hiding yesterday.

As she strolled in the afternoon sunshine with her parents and 18-month- old daughter, Hazel, Mrs Kelly, 21, who is being denied the right to have her pregnancy terminated, was making every effort to resume a normal life.

She fled to England when her case hit the headlines last week, but returned to her parents' home in Edinburgh late on Saturday night. Her father, John Falconer, 42, said she was "as well as can be expected", before adding: "We have decided we are not going to run away and hide and that's it. Today my family will be going about their normal business."

Mrs Kelly sought a termination 10 days ago after an acrimonious split from her husband several weeks before. When her estranged husband, James Kelly, 28, a roofer from Inverkeithing, Fife, heard about her appointment for an abortion at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, he took his case to the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh.

After losing in the Scottish courts, where four judges upheld Mrs Kelly's right to have the pregnancy terminated, Mr Kelly is now hoping to persuade the House of Lords to force his wife into having his child against her wishes. The case, unprecedented in Scottish law, will come before the Lords tomorrow at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Mrs Kelly is denied permission to go ahead with a termination - and time is running out. Unless she has the operation within the next few days, she will be into the second trimester of her pregnancy and a more complicated medical procedure will be necessary.

The estranged couple, who married in 1995, have accused each other in court of being unfit parents. Mrs Kelly, a nightclub singer, has alleged that during the two-year marriage she had to flee to a women's refuge because of domestic violence. Mr Kelly wants custody of both the unborn child and Hazel.

Mr Falconer looked every inch the doting grandfather as he affectionately ruffled Hazel's shock of red hair. It was, he revealed, for Hazel's sake that the family was endeavouring to resume a normal life. "She is the main reason why we have had to return. I cannot comment on why," he said.

He refused to discuss the distress of seeing his daughter's private life being laid bare in a courtroom, but said: "I have never been through anything like this before and I hope I never will again. In the fullness of time there will be a statement made about that but no comment at the moment. We don't want to prejudice our case."

Abortion and pro-life campaigners have been commenting on the case over the last week, but Mr Falconer insisted that the family did not want to be associated with either side.

The Birth Control Trust, which favours a woman's right to choose, welcomed the ruling in the Scottish courts. As far as the trust is aware, there had never been a case in Britain or the United States in which a husband had won a court order to stop an abortion going ahead.

John Smeaton, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "Above all, the right which the law should uphold is the unborn baby's right to life. A situation such as this exposes an absolute travesty of justice in that the unborn child is totally helpless and has absolutely no rights at all."

Cardinal Thomas Winning, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said in a statement: "There is surely an extraordinary anomaly in the law when a father can be pursued by the Child Support Agency for maintenance of a child, but has no say in protecting the child's life in the womb."

Mr Falconer refused to discuss the reasons for his daughter's abortion. He simply said: "I don't want to comment on any organisation's views for or against. We have no views on either side."

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