Amanda Mellet, a 38-year-old Irishwoman, is filing a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Committee to challenge her country’s ban on abortion. In Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, abortion only recently became legal if it is necessary to save the mother’s life. In November 2011, a pregnant Mellet was devastated to find out that her fetus had Edward’s system, a fatal abnormality that causes mutations to the heart and other organs.
She was told that her daughter may not survive the pregnancy, and that if she did, she’d die shortly after birth. If Mellet carried her to term, she wouldn’t know until delivery whether she was even still alive. She and her husband decided that terminating the pregnancy was the most humane thing to do for her child, who, if born alive, would spend her only few hours on earth in a hopeless struggle for survival.
Her doctors, however, were legally unable to perform the abortion.
Like many other couples in their situation, Mellet and her husband chose to “travel” — i.e. have the abortion performed in a nearby country where it is legal. She shared her full story the Termination For Medical Reasons Campaign, detailing how they went off to England with a referral from a family planning clinic. She felt like a criminal, rushing off to a secret procedure that she had to pay thousands for and speaking in euphemisms to her Irish doctors. On the flight back to Ireland after the termination, Mellet nearly fainted from a bad reaction to her pain medication, hoping all the while that she could just make it home to her own bed where she could grieve her child in peace.
Through her petition to the U.N., Mellet is fighting for change in hopes that other women never have to experience what she did. Two others are also stepping forward to file similar cases with the U.N. to pressure the nation to permit abortions in which there is no chance for the baby’s survival. We wholeheartedly support these brave women.
[Image of map of Ireland via Shutterstock]