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Pregnant Irish Teenager Wins the Right to Abort

A 17-year old Irish girl who made headlines recently for challenging the strong Catholic establishment by asserting her right to abort has got the nod from the Dublin High Court.

She has moved the Court demanding that she be allowed to go to Britain to abort her fourth month old brain-damaged fetus.

The 17-year-old who cannot be named, known only as Miss D, last week found out that the foetus she is carrying suffers from anencephaly, a severe deformity that means that a major part of the brain, scalp and skull is missing. If the child is carried for the full term, it is only expected to live for a maximum of three days after birth.

Despite the gradual erosion of the Catholic Church's influence in Ireland, a ban on abortion is still written in to the constitution.

Abortions can only be performed if a mother's life is at risk, which includes the threat of suicide. The law does not permit abortion on grounds of foetal abnormality.

The Irish Republic has a constitutional ban on abortion, but in 1992 made it legal to receive information about foreign abortion services and to travel for abortions in Britain.

An estimated 7,000 women travel outside Ireland each year to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

But Miss D has been in the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE) since March and it had first asked the police to prevent her from travelling. Subsequently it changed its mind though, saying that it would allow her to go to the UK after all, but only with the consent of her mother and a judge.

Miss D believed that she should have the right to choose abortion.

During a psychiatric assessment the girl told a doctor: "It's my body and I should be allowed to do with it what I want."

The psychiatrist's report noted that Miss D felt guilty as she had not taken folic acid in the run-up to her pregnancy or in its early stages.

The High Court has now ru led there were no statutory or constitutional grounds for preventing the teenager from travelling to Britain for the operation.


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