A case in Ireland of a ‘traveller’ girl who was raped at the age of 13, impregnated, and had an abortion while under state care is making it’s way around the anti-choice community.
The facts of the story are scattered. I have done my best to glom this together from various sources. And first of all, you have to know a brief bit about the Travellers. The Travellers are an Irish ethnic minority, somewhat genetically-linked as compared to regular Irish, but with no real understood history, and various families joining the Travellers at various points. One possible origin is that they were dispossessed under Cromwell, and then their numbers added to during England’s continued abuse of Ireland.
Anyway, they are, like the Roma, highly separate from mainstream Irish culture, they are nomadic, associated with certain trades— horse-trading and dog-raising— and have a much higher than average incident of child mortality, petty crime, and illiteracy. I am not criticizing them for this: these are the results of systematic and incidental persecution over centuries, and Ireland has only recently begun to atone for and attempt to help Travellers, and in many areas they are still persecuted. Travellers generally have a very closed-off relationship with the police and do not trust them.
The facts of the case as I understand them.
1. The girl was raped at 13 by another traveller.
2. The parents did not report this to the police. This doesn’t mean they didn’t care, it may mean they wanted justice inside the Traveller pseudo-justice system, or that they were threatened.
3. Some third party reported it, the police investigated, arrested the man who did it and successfully prosecuted him.
4. The girl was put into state care after being judged suicidal. She was also pregnant.
5. At this time, the girl claims that she was forcibly drugged and was given an abortion without her consent or knowledge. The state claims that both she and her parents wanted her to have an abortion. The father is on record supporting an abortion, in a radio interview.
6. After pro-life groups talked with the family, they suddenly did a reversal and were adamantly against the abortion, and fought in court against it. During this time it was reported that the girl was still threatening to kill herself if she didn’t get an abortion.
6. She was not returned to the custody of her parents, but put into foster care. The parents position here is that this is because they were Travellers, the state position, again passively, appears to be that the environment wasn’t fit for the child since she had been raped and the rape had not been reported by the parents, who had knowledge of it. They are reported to have been threatened, but that only increases the case for not returning the child.
7. Now, as an adult, she is being interviewed by and promoted by anti-choice groups, and claiming that the state forced her to have the abortion without her knowledge, drugged her up, etc. To me, these claims are credible to some extent, given the government history with Travellers, but the forced abortion seems improbable in the extreme, and the likelihood that a 13 year old girl who was raped would be suicidal and want an abortion is very high.
This story is being passed around and promoted in the anti-choice community, and it really is interesting because, in the end, if the girl’s claims are true, the problem was her choice was taken away. The problem wasn’t that she was given an abortion, it’s the removal of choice. This is actually a pro-choice story, not an anti-choice one.