Ireland’s High Court ruled yesterday that a pregnant teen carrying a fatally deformed fetus can travel outside the country to obtain an abortion, after the motion was previously defeated by the lower and middle courts. The 17-year-old girl, known as “Miss D,” has been in the custody of Ireland”s Health Services Executive (HSE) since February after incidents of abuse by her mother. When HSE discovered that Miss D intended to go to England to obtain a legal abortion, which is not available in Ireland, the agency prevented her from leaving the country. Although abortion remains illegal in Ireland, the High Court ultimately decided that there is no statutory or constitutional barrier precluding Miss D from leaving the country to terminate her pregnancy.
Miss D, who is now 18 weeks pregnant, had planned to carry her pregnancy to term but learned in April that the fetus is afflicted with a rare but fatal brain condition that will prevent the skull from forming. Irish law, however, only sanctions abortion in cases where there is substantial risk to the mother’s life. In court briefs, Miss D stated that it would be “inhumane” for the courts to force her to continue her pregnancy knowing that, once born, the baby wouldn”t survive, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports.
An estimated 7,000 women travel from Ireland annually to get abortions in England, according to figures published by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), but because Miss D was a minor in state custody, her travel was restricted by the HSE. IFPA said Miss D should not have had to endure 10 days of court proceedings to establish her right to travel abroad and faulted past governments for failing to establish a proper legal framework on abortion.