Woman in High Court abortion case gets time to access independent legal advice

Wednesday 24 July 2013 11.55
The couple are both foreign nationals but have been residing in Ireland
The couple are both foreign nationals but have been residing in Ireland

The High Court has been asked to order a psychiatric assessment of a young woman to establish if she is travelling abroad for an abortion against her will.

The woman's boyfriend has gone to court claiming he fears his pregnant girlfriend is being brought by her family to the UK against her will to undergo an abortion.

The man has asked the court for a number of injunctions preventing his girlfriend from undergoing an abortion or from leaving the jurisdiction until it can be ascertained if she is acting of her own free will.

The case was before the court this morning in the woman's absence.

She attended court this afternoon and will now be given an opportunity to seek independent legal advice.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she would not proceed until the woman had received her own legal advice.

The case was adjourned until Friday.

Earlier today, the court was told the couple, who are in their 20s, are both foreign nationals but have been residing in Ireland.

In a sworn statement to the court, the man said his girlfriend "is happy to be pregnant" and "never expressed any desire to have an abortion".

But he said her family is of the view she will be "ruined" if she has a child with a non-white man.

He says her true intentions are that she registered with a maternity hospital, was looking forward to having a scan in the near future and that she also bought baby clothes for the child.

Barrister Séamas Ó Tuathail, acting for the man, said his client discovered that his girlfriend has been booked into a clinic in the UK and is due to undergo a procedure tomorrow.

His client is of the view that his girlfriend is being forced to undergo the procedure by her parents and was under pressure.

He said it was in the best interest of the woman and the unborn to have an assessment carried out by a forensic psychiatrist to see if she was acting of her own free will so the court could be given the best information possible.

He said the woman was "uncertain of her position" with regard to getting legal advice.

Ms Justice Laffoy said she would not make any orders until the young woman had independent legal advice.

The judge also directed that the Attorney General be notified of the proceedings and be represented in court.

However, this afternoon senior counsel Eileen Barrington representing the Attorney General said it appeared to be a matter involving rights of a private nature and the Attorney General had no role to play in the case.

In his proceedings, the man seeks orders restraining his partner from having an abortion or from leaving the jurisdiction until the High Court can ascertain whether she is acting of her own free will.

He also wants an injunction restraining her parents from taking her out of the jurisdiction until it can be ascertained if she is acting of her own free will.

The man, in asking the court to vindicate the rights of his unborn child, also wants the court to order an urgent investigation to be undertaken by a psychiatrist to ascertain if she is being brought to the UK against her will before permitting her to leave the country for an abortion.

He has also said that he has no desire to restrain her from travelling should that be her freely held wish.

The couple have known each other for a year, but her family have not accepted their relationship.

The man says his girlfriend's family are deeply unhappy with the fact she is in a relationship with someone of non-European origin.

They had moved in together at a location away from her family, who also reside in Ireland.

However, at their home the man says they were harassed by members of her family.

He claims that in recent days she was forced by her family to leave the house they had shared.

He also claims that a member of his girlfriend's family threatened to kill him if he attempted to come near his girlfriend.