By Karrie Kehoe and Katrina Quick
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A migrant who said she was raped in her homeland before traveling to Ireland gave birth by Caesarean section when she was 24 weeks pregnant after Irish doctors rejected her request for an abortion on the grounds of suicidal thoughts, The Irish Times reported on Tuesday.
“I was raped in my country. I did not know I was pregnant until I came here”, the woman told the paper, which did not give her name, age or nationality.
She sought help to end the pregnancy when she discovered she was 8 weeks pregnant, but the medical authorities rejected her plea, the paper quoted her as saying.
Several weeks later, she was told she could travel to England for an abortion, but she could not afford the cost, estimated at a total of more than 1,500 euros, she said.
“In my culture it is a great shame to be pregnant if not married . . . I didn’t even know what [the medic] was saying to me,” she told the paper. “I said to her, ‘I could die because of this pregnancy. I am prepared to kill myself’.”
She then tried to kill herself but was interrupted, she told the paper.
A family friend told her to go to a doctor and tell him she was suicidal because of the pregnancy. The doctor arranged for her to see a psychiatrist, and she was taken to a hospital where she went on hunger strike for four days.
She was then told that because she was now 24 weeks pregnant, her pregnancy was too far advanced for a termination and she would have to have a Caesarean.
“I would have preferred an abortion … I was told the only way to end the pregnancy at this point would be a Caesarean … They said wherever you go in the world, the United States, anywhere, at this point it has to be Caesarean,” the woman said.
She told the paper she had not wanted a child from the rape to come into the world. “I didn’t want to even know that I had a child. Still, even today, I feel really bad,” she said. She has had no contact with the baby since leaving hospital, where the child remains, the paper said.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee declared that Ireland’s abortion laws treated women who were raped as “a vessel and nothing more” and said Ireland should revise its laws to provide additional exceptions to the ban on abortions for cases of rape, incest, serious risk to the health of the mother and foetal abnormality.
In October 2012, Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning in a hospital in Galway after doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy. The Indian dentist, admitted to hospital in great pain, was told her baby would not survive and asked for a termination, but surgeons refused to remove her foetus until its heart stopped beating several days later.
Her death caused national controversy and pushed lawmakers into passing the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act in July 2013.
(Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covers underreported humanitarian, human rights, corruption and climate change issues. Visit www.trust.org)