The UN's human rights committee says Ireland's effective ban on abortion violated a woman's human rights and must be reformed in what the Guardian calls "a ground-breaking judgment that is expected to set an international precedent." The committee responded to the case of Amanda Mellet, who was denied an abortion during her 21st week of pregnancy in 2011—though doctors said her fetus had a heart defect and would die in the womb or shortly after birth—as a law makes abortion illegal unless a woman's life is at risk, per Reuters. Rather than continue with the pregnancy, Mellet traveled to the UK for an abortion, alone and at her own expense, and returned home 12 hours later, though she wasn't fully recovered, because she couldn't afford to stay longer. The committee says that amounted to cruel and inhumane treatment.
"Many of the negative experiences she went through could have been avoided if [she] had not been prohibited from terminating her pregnancy in the familiar environment of her own country," the committee says, calling on Ireland to allow "effective, timely, and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination." Though "the report carries no legal power," per the AP, Ireland must compensate Mellet and move to prevent similar cases under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, per the Guardian. Ireland's government has suggested it won't address the laws directly as a result of the decision—which has infuriated anti-abortion activists, per RTE News—but will ask a citizens' assembly to recommend changes. (Read more abortion stories.)