A young woman who conceived a baby after being raped and who was refused an abortion - despite claiming to be suicidal and protesting with a hunger strike - has had her baby delivered by caesarean section.
The case has reignited the controversy over a relatively new Irish law that allows for abortion in limited circumstances.
The woman, who is not an Irish citizen, sought an abortion under a clause in the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, saying that she was suicidal after the rape and pregnancy.
Ireland has strict abortion laws, but in July 2013 the Irish Parliament legalised the termination of pregnancies in cases when there is a real risk to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide over a pregnancy. The law took effect in January, and the woman's case is believed to be the first such one under the legislation.
The case was referred to a panel of three experts - an obstetrician and two psychiatrists. The psychiatrists determined that she had suicidal thoughts, but the obstetrician declared that the fetus was viable and that it should be delivered.
After her request for an abortion was rejected, the woman began a brief hunger strike, refusing food and liquids. She eventually agreed to a caesarean section nearly 25 weeks into her pregnancy, after health officials began legal proceedings to forcibly hydrate her.
The baby survived the early birth and is currently in NICU. It is expected to be taken into state care.
The controversial new anti-abortion law does not allow abortions in cases of incest, rape, fetal abnormality or when there is no prospect of survival outside the womb. Abortion-rights advocates say this means that thousands of Irish women will still be forced to leave the country for abortions, but the woman's immigration status in Ireland may have prevented her from doing so.
England is currently the preferred option for thousands of Irish women who seek abortions every year. In 2013, 3679 women with addresses in the Republic of Ireland and 802 from Northern Ireland had abortions in England, according to official figures from the British Department of Health. The actual figures, however, are likely to be higher.
International outrage over the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicemia after she was repeatedly refused an abortion despite being told that she was having a miscarriage, pressed Ireland to modify its restrictive abortion law.
In July, the chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Nigel Rodley, criticized Ireland's abortion law and told Irish government representatives that women were being treated as mere "vessels."
"Life without quality of life is not something many of us have to choose between and to suggest that, regardless of the health consequences of a pregnancy, a person may be doomed to continue it at the risk of criminal penalty is difficult to understand," Rodley said.
"Even more so regarding rape when the person doesn't even bear any responsibility and is by the law clearly treated as a vessel and nothing more."
NY Times with staff writers