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Urgent need to change the law - top obstetrician

Consultant obstetrician Peter Boylan has called for a repeal of the amendment to the constitution in order to allow for abortion in the case of rape.

Dr Boylan was commenting on the current case of a young woman denied an abortion and forced to deliver her 24-week-old baby by caesarian.

"We have a very bizarre situation in this country where our constitution protects women to travel abroad for a procedure that our constitution makes illegal," he said.

"So our constitution in this country is really quite contradictory.

"What we really need to do is repeal the amendment and deal with the whole issue of legislation."

Dr Boylan admitted, however, that such a move would "obviously be a very toxic debate in political terms".

Psychotherapist Prof Eithne Murphy, who specialises in post-abortion issues, said the young woman should have daily contact with a counsellor or psychotherapist. It is understood the girl, who is at a location outside Dublin, is being seen by members of a mental health team every second or third day.

Prof Murphy insisted: "She's already been let down with what happened to her. To leave her alone on a day-to-day basis is just not good enough."

She said the girl had been through such trauma in Ireland and before she came here because of the rape.

"You are talking about such a lot of things happening in a very short space of time. I would just be concerned about her level of vulnerability," she said.

The psychotherapist said that in her experience of treating people no one made the decision to have a termination lightly and then they had to travel abroad.

There was a lack of emotional support in this country.

Meanwhile, around 1,500 people are expected to gather at the Spire in Dublin's O'Connell Street at 6pm this evening to demonstrate against the treatment of the woman at the centre of the latest controversy.

A number of pro-choice groups have come together to organise the large-scale protest in the capital.

Those taking to the streets will be joined by campaigners from across the country and abroad.

Groups seeking a change in the existing legislation will also gather outside Irish embassies in two European capitals. Pro-choice groups in London will gather outside the Irish embassy in Grosvenor Place and German activists will gather in Berlin.