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Right To Life - High Court – Proceedings

Right To Life - High Court – Proceedings

Right to Life is pleased with the judgement of the High Court, it is a victory for women and their unborn children, and they now have the right to be heard. The High Court has rejected the applications of the Crown to have the Court declare that the evidence of six women who have had an abortion, is irrelevant and should be inadmissible. The Crown filed a second claim that the orders suppressing the name and identity of the women be withdrawn. The Crown also did not succeed in having the expert evidence of a specialist consultant Psychiatrist deemed irrelevant and inadmissible. The judgement of Associate Judge Gendall was delivered on Thursday 21 December 2006. The hearing for the strikeout action of the Crown in relation to the mandamus taken by Right to Life against the Abortion Supervisory Committee was held in a three hour hearing on 29 October.

The evidence of the women recounts that the counselling received was to facilitate an abortion and that they were not informed of the potential physical and psychological damage that might follow having an abortion.

The Court recognised that the evidence of the specialist Psychiatrist was relevant. Her evidence states; “Termination of pregnancy creates a significant risk of giving rise to increased and more severe depression”. “Termination of the pregnancy will not therefore be necessarily the appropriate treatment for depression”. She also states that “another difficulty in using the termination of a pregnancy to assist in the treatment of depression is that in the case of moderately and severely depressed women their judgement is distorted and their ability to give consent would be in doubt. In such cases, it would be other people who make the decision about their having an abortion rather than the woman herself”.

The claim of Right to Life is now expected to be heard by the High Court in mid 2007. The statement of claim includes five grounds of review:

Alleged failure of the Abortion Supervisory Committee to properly interpret the Act according to its tenor;

Alleged failure by the defendant to perform its statutory duty to review the procedure for the conduct of abortions and determine in any case whether the provisions and procedures set out in the Act are being complied with;

3 Alleged failure by the defendant to enquire into the circumstances in which certifying consultants are authorising the performance of abortions on the mental health ground having regard to the extent to which that ground is being used;

4. Alleged failure by the defendant to seek proper information on the mental health grounds from certifying consultants;

Alleged failure by the defendant to perform its statutory duty or exercise its statutory power to take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure adequate counselling facilities are available [including ensuring that counselling services are independent of the licensed institutions in which they are provided.]

ENDS

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