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Government offers €30,000 to woman forced to travel abroad for abortion

Amanda Mellet was told the child she was carrying would die in the womb or shortly after birth.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS offered a woman €30,000 in compensation because she was forced to travel abroad to have an abortion.

Amanda Mellet was 21 weeks pregnant in 2011 when she was told the foetus had congenital defects meaning it would die in the womb or shortly after birth.

Mellet chose to travel to the UK to have a termination, staying there for only 12 hours because that was all she could afford.

In June, the UN’s Human Rights Commission ruled that Ireland had subjected Mellet to “discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” because of its laws against abortion.

It found that the State was obliged to provide compensation to Mellet, who has spoken previously about the “heartbreaking” loss she felt losing the child she named Aoife.

SineadOCarrollTJ / YouTube

Minister for Health Simon Harris met with Mellet and her husband yesterday evening to outline Ireland’s response to the UN ruling.

Harris has confirmed today that the State has offered her “an ex gratia sum of €30,000″.

An ex gratia payment describes a payment made that is not legally obligated.

Harris also said that he will direct the HSE to ensure that Mellet has access to “all appropriate psychological services.”

The UN had also told Ireland it was obliged to provide Mellet with psychological treatment.

Ireland has until next Tuesday to respond to the UN committee and detail the steps it intends to take to ensure it is complaint under human rights law.

In his statement, Harris says that Ireland’s response to the committee will outline the constitutional protection of the unborn under Irish law and the establishment of the Citizens’ Assembly to consider whether this should be changed.

The Health Minister previously outlined his view that his is in favour of a referendum so that people who have never voted on the Eighth Amendment have an opportunity to do so.

The minister also said that he found Mellet’s particular case “deeply upsetting”.

11/10/2016. Cabinet Meetings Health Minister Simon Harris met with Amanda Mellet and her husband yesterday evening. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

In a statement this afternoon, Mellet said that the minister offered her a personal apology and that she is “immensely grateful”:

I am immensely grateful to Minister Harris for his personal apology to me last night and offer of compensation and counselling. It goes a long way towards closure for what was the most painful chapter of my life.I am hopeful that ensuring the legal change outlined by the UN Committee will now be the government’s next step

“I personally will not feel able to move on while knowing that other women continue to have to leave this country to access reproductive health services,” she added.


Amnesty International has welcomed the offer made to Mellet saying that it showed the government “accepted the UN committee’s findings”.

9/6/2016. Abortion Issues In Ireland (From L to R) Colm O'Gorman, Amnesty International, Evelyn Geraghty, Irish Family Planning Association, Leah Hoctor, Centre for Reproductive Rights and Katrine Thomasen, legal advisor. Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

“This response acknowledges the harm caused to women by the current law,”said Amnesty International’s Colm O’Gorman.

The government must now comply with the committee’s ruling that Ireland reform its laws to ensure that no woman or girl will ever face similar human rights violations.

“We have tentatively welcomed the Citizens’ Assembly process,” he added.

The Centre for Reproductive Rights has represented Mellet as part of her case and has described the government’s offer as “a symbolic step”.

“The government’s promise of compensation to Ms Mellet is a hugely important and symbolic step towards recognising the pain she suffered,” said Europe director at the centre Leah Hoctor.

“Women’s health and well-being are put in jeopardy when they have to travel to another country for abortion services,” she added.

Hoctor has also said that the government must “repair the wrongs” Hoctor experienced by “ensuring effective law reform takes place”.

TFMR Ireland, a group that works with people bereaved by fatal foetal anomalies, has welcomed Harris’ apology and compensation offer but criticised the timeframe being set aside to consider to recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly.

“There is no appreciation of the urgency with which this solution is required by all of the women and their families who continue to suffer these tragedies,” said TMFR Ireland’s Gerry Edwards.

Read: Simon Harris has apologised to Amanda Mellet in the Dáil >

Read: UN: Ireland must compensate woman forced to travel abroad for abortion >

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