By Hilary White

DUBLIN, May 9, 2007 ( – The seventeen year-old mother of an unborn anencephalic child has been granted permission from the Irish High Court to go to Britain to seek an abortion. The Guardian reports that Mr. Justice Liam McKechnie ruled today that there were no statutory or constitutional grounds for stopping her from travelling to the UK for the operation.

Identified in the press only as “Miss D,” the girl brought a suit against the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE), in whose care she is, to be allowed to travel to Britain where abortion for ‘severely’ disabled children has no legal limits.
  In a surprise move last week, the Irish Attorney General ordered defence lawyers to represent the unborn child in the case. The suit was against the District Justice, the HSE, Ireland and the Attorney General. Irish law does not allow abortion in cases of foetal abnormality.

The government lawyer argued that neither courts, nor state agencies, including the police, were empowered to help anyone seek an abortion.

Miss D had been told that her child would only survive at most three days after birth, although anencephalic children normally survive to full term and present no medical danger to the mother. But last week, the HSE dropped all objection, saying she could travel to Britain to have her child aborted with the permission of her mother and the court. The district judge, however, had refused to consent and the case went to the High Court.

In Ireland, although the constitution protects the right to life, courts have established that mothers under the age of majority can be allowed to cross over to England if it can be shown that there is a danger of suicide from emotional distress. Miss D’s lawyer, however, admitted that although she was in distress over the baby’s diagnosis, there was no danger of suicide. He said that under the law, no matter what his medical condition, the unborn child was a person with constitutionally protected rights.
  The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has described today’s Dublin high court ruling, which allows a woman to come to Britain for an abortion, as a tragedy for both mother and child.
  Alison Davis, leader of SPUC’s No Less Human group which campaigns on disability issues, responded to today’s ruling calling it a “tragedy both for Miss D and for her unborn child.”

“It is a tragedy for the baby because he or she will be killed by abortion, and it is a tragedy for Miss D because she will be complicit in the killing.”

“Miss D’s baby is just as precious as any non-disabled child, and the likelihood of a short post-natal life does not alter that fact. We can do better for young people like Miss D than suggesting that killing their baby is the solution to their problems.”

Read related coverage:
  Another Irish Teenager May go to Britain for an Abortion

Irish Government Lawyers to Represent Unborn Child in Abortion Case


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