Woman Denied Abortion

by dominiquedifiore on November 12, 2014 - 10:27am

The article Woman Denied an Abortion in Republic of Ireland was Raped was published on August 18th, 2014 on the BBC News website. It describes what happened to a woman (her name is not mentioned due to privacy policies) who was raped and got pregnant after it happened. This particular woman demanded to have an abortion, after being eight weeks pregnant, but the health staff categorically refused to end her pregnancy until they could safely remove the baby by caesarean section. According to the law, in Ireland, it is illegal to get an abortion. However a new law was imposed stating that abortion is permitted if the woman is at risk of suicide. In the case of this woman, two psychiatrists and an obstetrician came to the conclusion that she was at risk of suicide. Yet, the health staff still did not want to permit an abortion. Unfortunately for her, she did not have the chance to travel to another country to get an abortion, because she was a foreign national, and so, her immigration status in Ireland prevented her from travelling freely out of the state to get the abortion she desired.  The woman was so vulnerable that she went on a hunger strike, because they refused her abortion. Finally, the baby was delivered prematurely 25 weeks into her pregnancy and the child has now been taken into the care of the state.


After acknowledging the situation that this woman went trough, is it ethical to refuse an abortion to her after she as been raped and got pregnant with a baby she never wanted in the first place, also knowing that this woman could be at risk of killing herself if she does not get this abortion? By considering this ethical question for this particular woman, a general ethical question that could apply to other woman wanting an abortion should also be considered. This more general ethical question would be something along the lines of; under what circumstances is an abortion moral? Is it always moral to get abortion?


"Woman Denied Abortion 'was Raped'" BBC News. N.p., 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 Nov.



What drew me in about this article was the title. As I read the article I kind of had to shake my head. I’ve always been raised to believe that Abortion was wrong and that it was a horrible thing, because my parents are extremely religious. I kind of just followed along with their opinion and didn’t really voice my own opinion until one of my friends got raped. She ended up getting pregnant from it. Because of the circumstances and the fact that her parents were also very religious she decided to get an abortion and not tell her parents that she was ever pregnant or raped. If she had lived in Ireland She, in my opinion would be the victim not once but twice. Once, by being forced against her will have sex and then once more by having to carry the consequence and an constant reminder of the ordeal for the next 9 months (or the rest of her life). Seeing what my friend could have gone through I have come to believe that it is the woman’s choice and no one else’s to decide whether or not she will or will not get an abortion, BUT, I also believe that if the woman/child isn’t in danger and the child wasn’t conceived through rape/incest I think the woman should look at other options such as adoption.

I believe every women has reproductive rights and they should be allowed to choose what they want to do with their baby in certain situations. In the case of woman who got pregnant because she fell victim to a rape. Abortion should be a legal option based on the situation for any woman. Even though abortion might not necessarily be the most wanted option for most, it should be up to the woman to decide and not for the state to decide whether a child should live or not. here's a link to give you an idea of what I stand for.

According to me, what Irish authorities did to this woman is ethically inadmissible. I believe that when an act engenders much more negative consequences that it brings positive ones, then it is not ethical. This is mainly utilitarian beliefs.
As you mentioned, this woman was not only bearing the pain from the rape she had suffered, but also had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, enduring physical repercussions she did not wish for. In this case, the woman's suffering clearly outweighed the the benefits associated with the nations' law being followed. In order to complement this comment, I would suggest you to read Mill's views on utilitarianism (website at the end of post). This webpage thoroughly explains Mill's view on the question of utilitarianism. He says that we must base our actions on a standard of right action, depending on the specific conditions of a particular case. In the case of the Irish woman, the right procedure would have been to let her have the abortions, since this pregnancy led to much more negative consequences than positive ones.

I believe it is unethical for the state to refuse an abortion to a woman, particularly when the latter had been victim of rape. I think that there is a reason why the abortion is demanded and so the demand is certainly based on a calculation of further consequences. Therefore, I also believe that the morality of abortion could be defended with the principal of utility which is that who brings the most happiness. It is undeniable that an undesired child from a rape brings less happiness. In the first place, the woman did not desire to have a baby, certainly not after the awful event she had been the victim. Moreover, to have a baby is an important engagement and if the mother is not ready for it, it brings less happiness to the child. Indeed, defendants of the anti-abortion side believe the fetus to be a human being and it should be given the right to live. But the formers do not consider the quality of the child’s life. More than often, the undesired children are put on adoption. I do not say that they will not find a good family to take care of them, but I do not find it so moral to absolutely give birth to the child to then give him/her away because the mother was not ready for her mother’s role. I recognize that it would tend to be immoral if abortion was used too often and for no valuable reasons. But for the case of rape, it makes no doubt to me that no women should be refused the right to abortion. The woman IS the one who will be pregnant for 9 months, she IS the one who must take care of the baby and she IS the one who have been victim from the rape. Therefore, she must be the one to decide if she keeps the baby.

Hi dominiquedifiore, your post intrigued me because I have always been very against the idea of women not having control over their own bodies. In this case, a woman was not only horribly assaulted, but was forced to have a child against her will. The ethical principle I hold in this situation is act utilitarianism. The way I see it, the woman suffered incredibly because of the wrong that was done to her. The Irish state, on the other hand, would have not suffered nearly as much if the woman had simply aborted the child. As an act utilitarian, I believe that the choice that leads to the most happiness (or the least amount of suffering) should have been made in this situation in order to avoid the unnecessary pain on the part of the woman. Another ethical principle I support is the social contract theory, according to which people must obey a set of rules in society in order to coexist in peace, but are allowed to make personal decisions that do not affect others as they please. In this case, the woman's choice to have an abortion would not have harmed the society. Thus, she should have been able to do it. This is a position I discovered while writing my term paper. The following link defends the idea that women should be able to make personal choices, such as abortion, about their bodies as it does not harm anyone as much as it harms them:

First of all, I’d like to say that I love the title of your post! It provides a concise summary of your article, while being short enough to make me want to read more. I also appreciate that you’ve included details, such as the legislations regarding abortion in Ireland and the outcome of the pregnancy.

That being said, I agree that it is problematic that the woman was denied an abortion despite her being at risk of suicide. I believe that this injustice could be explained by a gendered lens and by specifically looking at second-wave feminism.

While first-wave feminism involved demanding civil rights, second-wave feminism was centered around women's reproductive rights and sexual freedom. Sexual violence, an important subject in your article, was first discussed on a larger scale during this movement (in the 1960s to the 1980s) through the means of consciousness-raising groups. It is then that women realized that this was a big problem and that it needed to be addressed. The health staff, however, didn’t seem to share this opinion, as they almost completely overlooked the woman’s claims that she had been raped.

Second-wave feminists also demanded more reproductive freedom for women, which involved abortion on demand. Abortion on demand stipulates that women should be able to get an abortion without having to wait or explain the circumstances, without having to travel, and without having any financial restrictions. This applies especially to your article, as Ireland has not implemented this fundamental woman’s right which was enforced––at times very radically––by second-wave feminists.

If you want to read up on second-wave feminism and the key issues that it debates, such as abortion on demand, I invite you to take a look at these Wikipedia and about articles.