Abortion debate flares in Ireland over case of rape victim

Woman denied termination and forced to deliver baby by Caesarean section

Ireland Correspondent

Fiery questions over abortion – one of the most troubling and divisive in Ireland – have reignited again with the case of a women who was reportedly raped and said she was suicidal but delivered a baby by Caesarean section after being refused a termination.

The treatment of the young foreign national, who has not been named, is putting recent legislation to the test and has exposed serious shortcomings in a law intended to lay the issue to rest.

The baby was born after a panel of doctors apparently disagreed on whether its mother, who is understood to have been raped before she arrived in the country, could legally be given an abortion. The woman, who does not speak English and is described as vulnerable, went on a hunger and thirst strike after being refused an abortion but eventually agreed to have the foetus induced at 25 weeks.

Of a three-person panel which examined the case, two psychiatrists are said to have concluded she was potentially suicidal, while a consultant obstetrician disagreed. The baby is now in the care of the health authorities.

While many of the details of the case remain unclear, the woman is said to have feared for her safety as a result of her pregnancy. According to a friend, she said: “I do not want this. I am too young to be a mother. I am not ready.” She appears to have been seeking an abortion for some months.

The Dail in Dublin last year passed legislation designed to make abortion available in very limited circumstances, following months of intense debate that saw street demonstrations and political resignations.

This followed the tragic death of an Indian woman, Savita Halappanavar, who was refused an abortion in a Galway hospital in 2012. There was also pressure for clarification of the law, generally regarded as unclear, from the European Court of Human Rights. At the time liberal and conservative lobbyists warned that the new regulations left many grey areas. Political parties were criticised at the time for opting for a minimalist approach in an attempt to close down one of the most contentious issues in Irish public life. This uncertainty has led a government minister to say that a referendum may be necessary, since abortion issues are covered not just by standard law but also by the Irish constitution.

Most Irish politicians instinctively shy away from such votes, given that they generally lead to heated and acrimonious campaigns.

 Video: Irish politicians discuss abortion law this month

The National Women’s Council of Ireland has described the treatment as horrific and distressing, saying it underlined the need for a referendum.

Although the number of women travelling from the Republic of Ireland to Britain for abortions in recent years has declined, 3,500 made the journey last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable