Lawyers for a 17-year-old girl who wants to have an abortion in the UK have told the High Court the State has the power to direct the Health Service Executive to permit the girl to travel.

Senior Counsel Eoghan Fitzsimons asked if the State was saying that the HSE was wrong, then why had the State not directed the HSE as it is entitled to under the 2004 Health Care Act?

He said five sets of legal teams were in court and the girl, known as Miss D, had to endure a legal process that was entirely unnecessary.

Counsel for the State Donal O'Donnell said he had no notice that this argument was going to be made and the lawyers will return to the issue later.

The court also heard that the girl was told a court order had been granted preventing her travelling when she was taken to see a psychiatrist by the HSE. No such order existed.

She told the psychiatrist she was happy to be pregnant and had bought 'nappies and everything'.

She said she dreaded the thought of giving birth to a baby that was going to die, but she was not suicidal.

The girl said she felt guilty because she had not taken folic acid before she got pregnant. And she said it was her body and she should be allowed to do what she wants with it.

She described herself as a strong person, who had coped with a lot of difficulties.

This morning, the court was told that gardaí informed the HSE last week they had no power to stop the girl leaving the State for an abortion.

The High Court also heard this morning that the gardaí did not intend to try to stop her without a court order.

Mr Fitzsimons said the HSE wrote to gardaí on 26 April to ask them to prevent the girl from travelling.

Gardaí wrote back the same day, and told the executive that they would not and could not stop the girl without a court order.

The girl is in the care of the HSE and is four months pregnant with a child with anencephaly, who will not survive outside the womb.

Mr Fitzsimons said the HSE had misconstrued the law under the Child Care Act and had made a mistake in relation to the legal provisions of the act.