'Suicidal woman' refused abortion gives birth by caesarean in Ireland

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A "suicidal" woman has given birth by caesarean section in the Republic of Ireland after requesting a termination under the country's new abortion law.

It is understood she requested an abortion late in her second trimester.

An expert panel assessed her as having suicidal thoughts but it was decided she should have a caesarean section.

She began a hunger strike and health authorities went to court to force her to end the fast. She later agreed to a caesarean and gave birth to a child.

The baby was born at about 25 weeks and has survived. It is understood the child will be taken into the care of the state.

The woman is believed to be young and very vulnerable.

She cannot be named due to a court order protecting her identity.

It is not clear if the fact that she had requested the termination at a late stage in her pregnancy played a part in the refusal to grant her an abortion.

The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) recently sought an order from the High Court in Dublin, preventing the woman from starving herself.

This was granted and the hospital was allowed to hydrate her.

The HSE was due to return to the court for a second hearing, but this was withdrawn after she agreed to undergo a caesarean section.

Both the HSE and the Irish Department of Health said that they cannot comment on individual cases.

Under the Republic of Ireland's new abortion laws, abortion is legal when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, including the risk of suicide.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act came into force on 1 January this year.

Women who tell health staff they are suicidal during an unwanted pregnancy are assessed by a panel of health experts.

It is one of the first high-profile cases to test the new abortion law, which was introduced following controversy over the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012.

Mrs Halappanavar had asked for a termination after being told she was having a miscarriage, but staff at a Galway hospital refused and days later, she died from infection.

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