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IRISH TEEN HAS ABORTION IN ENGLAND

A 14-year-old alleged rape victim whose case caused a furor in Ireland has had an abortion in England, newspapers reported Friday, after she won court approval to go abroad to end her pregnancy.

The girl had the abortion on Tuesday, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent reported without giving further details.The girl's struggle pitted conservatives and reformists seeking to liberalize Irish law, which forbids abortions unless the mother's life is in danger. About 4,000 women travel to Britain each year for abortions.

The girl, who claimed she was raped by the father of a friend, was granted approval by the Supreme Court Feb. 26 to leave Ireland to have an abortion.

Prime Minister Albert Reynolds has said he hoped to avoid a referendum on the abortion issue because of the lingering bitterness from a 1983 vote that put the anti-abortion clause in the constitution of this predominately Roman Catholic nation.

But Justice Niall McCarthy, one of the four judges who voted to allow the girl to leave, said Friday that it was "inexcusable" parliament had not enacted legal guidelines following the 1983 amendment.

McCarthy suggested legislation was needed to clarify whether abortion was permitted in cases where the mother is under age or a rape victim.

The amendment affirms the right to life of the unborn "with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother."

"Whatever has to be done will be done. It is going to require political action," said Justice Minister Padraig Flynn.

"We should have another referendum. There is no other alternative," said Marie Vernon, spokeswoman for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.