Irish Family in Abortion Case to Appeal

From Associated Press

The family of a 14-year-old girl who has been forbidden to seek an abortion in Britain plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Albert Reynolds said Thursday.

Reynolds said he hopes that the decision could help avoid a repetition of a divisive 1983 referendum that put an anti-abortion clause in the constitution.

"I have asked the attorney general's office and indeed independent outside advisers to look at various aspects of this as soon as possible to find a resolution without going to a referendum," Reynolds said in an interview with RTE television.

Opposition parties called Wednesday for a new constitutional referendum on abortion.

It is not known when the Supreme Court would hear the case.

The girl says she became pregnant after being raped in December by the father of a friend, after more than a year of sexual abuse by the man.

Ireland has the most restrictive abortion law in Europe, permitting only a "morning-after" pill that terminates pregnancies in the first 72 hours.

About 4,000 Irish women had abortions in England and Wales in 1990, according to British records.

The girl's case came to the attention of authorities when the family asked police whether they should preserve tissue samples from the fetus for possible prosecution of the alleged rapist.

Atty. Gen. Harry Whelehan forbade the abortion in Britain and his decision was affirmed this week by High Court Judge Declan Costello.

"This has been a very difficult week for women and girls here in Ireland," President Mary Robinson told women's groups in the southeastern city of Waterford.

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