High Court abortion case withdrawn

Friday 19 July 2013 22.12
The man had claimed his girlfriend was being forced by her family to have an abortion
The man had claimed his girlfriend was being forced by her family to have an abortion

The High Court has heard a case involving a man who tried to stop his girlfriend travelling to the UK for an abortion has been withdrawn.

The man had gone to court earlier this week claiming his girlfriend was being forced by her family to have an abortion.

He wanted the court to order a psychiatric assessment of the woman to establish if she was acting of her own free will.

This morning Ms Justice Mary Laffoy was told a sworn statement had been made by the woman.

They were "happy to put faith" in the statement and "matters would continue as at present in relation to the pregnancy".

The woman's statement was not read in court but it is understood she now plans to continue with her pregnancy.

Ms Justice Laffoy described it as an emotive issue and said she hoped things would work out for both sides.

She struck out the case.

The couple sat together in court for the brief hearing and afterwards embraced outside court.

Outside court, a number of anti-abortion activists said they had helped the man take his case to the High Court.

On Wednesday, the 28-year-old man had asked the court for a number of injunctions preventing his 20-year-old girlfriend from undergoing an abortion or from leaving the jurisdiction until it could be ascertained if she was acting of her own free will.

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

She attended court later that day and was given an opportunity to seek independent legal advice.

Ms Justice Laffoy said she would not proceed until the woman had received her own legal advice and the case was adjourned to today.

The couple 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 said 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 said his client discovered that his girlfriend has been booked into a clinic in the UK and was due to undergo a procedure yesterday.

His client is of the view that his girlfriend was 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.

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

However, 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 sought orders restraining his partner from having an abortion or from leaving the jurisdiction until the High Court could ascertain whether she is acting of her own free will.

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

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

He has also said that he had 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 that 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, but had been forced to leave their home by her family, he claimed.