A suicidal rape victim in Ireland was denied an abortion under the country’s strict abortion ban, despite protesting with a hunger strike.
The victim, who is not an Irish citizen, recently delivered her baby by C-section at 25 weeks.
A clause in Ireland's new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act states that termination of pregnancy can only occur when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, the New York Times reported. The threat of suicide is included under the legislation, which took effect in January. Rape, incest and fetal abnormality or when there is no prospect of survival outside the womb are not covered.
A court order prohibits the disclosure of the full details of her rape case, but The Independent and The Sunday Times both reported that she had been raped based on court proceedings.
The woman was examined by three experts – two psychiatrists and an obstetrician. The obstetrician said the fetus was viable and that it should be delivered. The psychiatrists determined she had suicide thoughts that put her life at risk.
After 17 weeks of deliberating, the abortion request was rejected and the woman began a brief hunger strike. Health officials began proceedings to forcibly hydrate her, when she finally agreed to a C-section at nearly 25 weeks. Her newborn is healthy and is now in the custody of the state.
The woman believes officials deliberately delayed the decision-making process to force her to have the baby.
“Life without quality of life is not something many of us have to choose between and to suggest that, regardless of the health consequences of a pregnancy, a person may be doomed to continue it at the risk of criminal penalty is difficult to understand,” Nigel Rodley, the chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, said in July.
“Even more so regarding rape when the person doesn’t even bear any responsibility and is by the law clearly treated as a vessel and nothing more,” he said.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland