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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Irish teen in court abortion plea
Dublin
Ireland has some of the toughest abortion laws in Europe
A 17-year-old pregnant Irish girl is appearing in the High Court in Dublin to press for the right to travel to Britain for an abortion.

Doctors have told the girl that her four-month foetus will not live more than a few days beyond birth.

She is in the care of Ireland's health service which has issued an order stopping her from going to Britain.

But a lawyer for the girl argued that the health authority had no right to stop her travelling.

Eoghan Fitzsimons told the court that police had responded to a request by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to prevent her leaving the country, saying they could not and would not do so without a court order.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where the mother's life is threatened by a medical condition or suicide.

Thousands of Irish women get around the ban by privately travelling to Britain, where abortion was legalised in 1967, to undergo terminations.

'Distraught'

Mr Fitzsimons said it was inhumane to expect the girl to carry the foetus for the full nine months only for it to die.

No woman should have to endure the trauma of carrying to full term a child who will not live more than a few hours
Pro-choice campaigner

She was deeply distressed by the diagnosis and a travel ban was tantamount to degrading treatment, he was quoted by PA as saying.

The teenager, known only as Miss D, comes from the Leinster region and has been under the guardianship of the HSE - Ireland's national health service - since March.

Even though she is in care, the girl's mother, known as Miss A, has come out in support of her daughter's wish, as has her boyfriend who launched the legal appeal on her behalf since Miss D is still a minor.

Miss D was informed last month that her foetus has anencephaly, a condition which means that a large part of the brain and skull is missing.

Babies with anencephaly live a maximum of just three days after birth.

A psychiatrist appointed by the HSE said that the teenager was distraught at the diagnosis, but not suicidal, and therefore did not meet the criteria for being allowed a termination.

Protest rally

Both sides in the case have agreed that the case be rushed through the court system as soon as possible.

Pro-choice groups Choice Ireland and Alliance for Choice rallied outside the court to show support for the teenager.

"No woman should have to endure the trauma of carrying to full term a child who will not live more than a few hours," a spokeswoman for the groups said.

"Miss D is another case of several that have gone before and will come again that highlight the flaws in Irish abortion law. Without legislation to deal with this issue, yet more Irish women in difficult situations will have to be dragged through the courts," she added.




SEE ALSO
Q&A: Abortion law
21 Jun 06 |  UK

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