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United Nations rules Irish abortion laws violated woman's human rights

The United Nations headquarters in New York. The UN has called for an overhaul of Ireland's abortion laws.
Seanín Graham

THE United Nations has ruled for a second time in a year that the Republic's abortion laws have violated a woman's human rights.

The UN human rights committee today found in favour of Siobhán Whelan who had to travel to Britain for an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

Ms Whelan (47), who is from the Republic, said she had suffered a "high level of mental anguish" as a result of the actions of the State.

In the UN ruling, the Irish government were ordered to pay compensation to Ms Whelan and to provide psychological treatment to her.

It also said the Republic of Ireland needs to change its laws on abortion to prevent similar violations of the rights of women.

Last year the UN also ruled in favour of Amanda Mellet, who was forced to travel to Britain to end her pregnancy.

She made history by becoming the first woman to be compensated by the Irish state over the trauma she suffered after she was awarded €30,000.

The ruling came as almost 9,000 people signed a petition calling on incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure the Republic's mental health laws are not abused by health professionals in relation to abortion.

The petition relates to the controversial case of an Irish teenager who was sectioned after asking for an abortion.

The doctor responsible for her detainment has been accused of using mental health law "as a tool to force a child into continuing an unwanted pregnancy because of their own personal beliefs".

The case was one of 22 revealed in a damning report published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project earlier this week.

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