Somali refugee on Nauru wins bid to have abortion in Australia

A Federal Court judge has ruled that a pregnant Somali woman on Nauru can come to Australia for an abortion.

The island of Nauru is home to a refugee camp - but will also host international delegates.

The island of Nauru is home to a refugee camp - but will also host international delegates. Source: Getty Images

A pregnant Somali woman on Nauru, who is the victim of female genital mutilation (FGM), has won a legal bid to come to Australia for an abortion.

The Australian government had proposed sending the refugee to Taiwan for the procedure, but a Federal Court judge found that she "cannot obtain the medical treatment she requires [there]".

"There are no Taiwanese obstetricians and gynaecologists with experience in performing pregnancy terminations on women with FGM," Justice Alan Robertson said in his judgement on Friday.

The woman is approximately 12 weeks pregnant and has been on Nauru for almost five years.

The judgement said she has a history of mental illness, including a number of suicide attempts.

Obstetrics and gynaecology professor Caroline de Costa gave evidence that hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne now have "considerable experience" in dealing with such cases.

In making his ruling, Justice Robertson said that infibulation - or the practice of removing parts of female genitalia - carries "significant emotional and psychological implications and those aspects of care need to be expertly managed".

He said there would be "substantial risks in performing the termination in other environments or by practitioners without the relevant experience [including] immediate physical risks ... and major psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder".

The Refugee Action Coalition says that 1,600 refugees remain on Nauru and Manus.

The offshore policy is designed to deter people embarking on treacherous sea journeys, but the United Nations and other rights groups have criticised the camps' conditions and long detention periods.

Published 21 June 2018 at 9:07pm
By Nick Baker