A refugee detained on Nauru since 2013 was denied entry into Australia for an emergency abortion despite her vagina being partially stitched up because she had given birth in the past.
Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs office denied the application for entry which was appealed at the Federal Court in June.
There the government’s lawyers claimed because the Somalian woman’s vagina had been unstitched and she had given birth previously that she was not at risk and didn’t need entry to Australia.
Instead they suggested she be transported to Taiwan for the procedure.
Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs office denied a refugee detained on Nauru since 2013 into Australia for an emergency abortion
‘The bottom line is that having examined her, the relevant medical officer formed the view that she is already de-infibulated and the vaginal opening is sufficient to perform the operation,’ the lawyer argued
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre detention advocacy manager Natasha Blucher spoke with BuzzFeed News and described the decision as abhorrent.
‘The fact that the government would quite literally send lawyers into court to argue over the degree of a woman’s ‘vaginal opening’ in order to prevent her accessing the best health care available to her is abhorrent,’ she said.
The woman suffers from type three female genital mutilation (FGM) which is categorised by the World Health Organisation as ‘narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation)’.
The lawyers argued that since the woman had been ‘de-infibulated’ (her labia had been unstitched) and she had already given birth in the past, that she did not require specialist treatment in Australia.
There the government’s lawyers claimed because the Somalian woman’s vagina had been unstitched and she had given birth previously that she was not at risk and didn’t need entry to Australia
A senior doctor on Nauru had submitted a report to the Australian Border Force claiming the woman had ‘de-infibulation’.
Despite the argument set out by the government lawyers, Justice Alan Robertson ruled against them and said there was ‘substantial risks involved with sending her to Taiwan.
He stated that the woman did indeed require ‘specific surgical needs’ that could not be provided in Taiwan, but could be provided by a ‘clinic with experience in treating women with FGM’.
She was then flown to an agreed upon facility in Australia for the procedure.
Obstetrics and gynaecology professor Caroline de Costa, who testified in the case said refugees should be provided with the best possible care while in detainment
Obstetrics and gynaecology professor Caroline de Costa, who testified in the case, told BuzzFeed News that refugees should be provided with the best possible care while in detainment.
‘Where abortion has been requested by women refugees or asylum seekers they should receive the same standard of care and respect available to women with similar issues in Australia,’ she said.
The Department of Home Affairs declined to comment on individual cases.