In 2011, Ms. Mellet learned that the pregnancy involved a fatal fetal imapirment. Her doctors in Dublin told her that either the foetus would die in utero or would not survive long after birth. Upon receiving this information, Ms. Mellet found the prospect of continuing her pregnancy unbearable and decided to seek an abortion. However, Ireland’s law only allows abortions for women whose pregnancies threaten their lives. Ms. Mellet was told that in order to end her pregnancy she would have to travel to another country. Ms. Mellet travelled at her own expense to a hospital in the United Kingdom where she underwent the procedure. She flew home to Dublin only 12 hours later, although still weak and bleeding.

In November 2013, Ms. Mellet filed an individual complaint to the Human Rights Committee, under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Human Rights Committee’s groundbreaking decision in this case is the first time, in a decision on an individual complaint against any state, that an international or regional court or quasi-judicial body has explicitly and unequivocally held that prohibiting and criminalizing abortion violates women’s human rights. It provides critical confirmation of the acute impact that preventing women who have decided to end a pregnancy from doing so in their own country can have on their physical and mental health.