Pregnant asylum seeker returned to Nauru 'changed her mind about having an abortion', PM says

Pregnant asylum seeker returned to Nauru 'changed her mind about having an abortion', PM says

Pregnant asylum seeker returned to Nauru 'changed her mind about having an abortion', PM says

Updated 17 October 2015, 16:35 AEDT

A pregnant asylum seeker who was transferred to Australia for an abortion was returned to Nauru because she changed her mind about having the procedure, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.

A pregnant asylum seeker who was transferred to Australia for an abortion was returned to Nauru because she changed her mind about having the procedure, the Prime Minister says.

The 23-year-old Somali woman was brought to Australia for treatment this week, after allegedly being raped at the detention centre on Nauru.

Key points:

  • ABC understands 'Abyan' returned to immigration detention on Nauru on Friday
  • PM Malcolm Turnbull says she changed her mind about having an abortion
  • Woman's lawyers say she wanted counselling before making decision about procedure
  • Immigration Minister Peter Dutton accuses advocates of using "woman's circumstance for their own political agenda"

The ABC understands that at 9:00am on Friday, immigration officials took the woman, known as Abyan, from her room at Sydney's Villawood detention centre with the intention of sending her to Nauru.

Her legal team lodged an urgent injunction with the Federal Court to prevent her removal, which was heard late yesterday.

But her lawyers said Government lawyers told the court that Abyan was already out of Australia, in Honiara on her way to Nauru.

The Federal Court said it did not have jurisdiction to act.

"What we now know is that she was at some time put on a jet to Honiara to get her out of the country, to avoid court action that might have prevented her being removed from Australia," the Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul told ABC's AM.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was today asked whether the woman had been sent back to Nauru to avoid a legal injunction.

"The information I have is that [the] woman in question changed her mind about seeking a termination and that's all I know," he said.

"She changed her mind ... and was deemed as fit to fly, so is returning."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton released a statement saying the woman was returned because she decided not to proceed with the abortion.

"The woman has decided not to proceed with the termination ... The woman was brought to Australia for medical attention, not for a migration outcome," he said in a statement.

But Abyan's lawyer George Newhouse said his client wanted to see a counsellor before she committed to go through with the abortion.

"We asked for counselling, support and for her to understand the procedure that she was about to undertake," he said.

"On the basis of those requests apparently the Government decided to take her back to Nauru.

"We are gobsmacked."

When asked whether Abyan received medical help while she was in Australia, Mr Rintoul said: "No, no. Emphatically, emphatically no."

Mr Dutton has slammed the claims made by Abyan's lawyers about the circumstances surrounding her return to Nauru.

"Comments from some advocates to the contrary are a fabrication, while others appear to be using this woman's circumstance for their own political agenda. They should be ashamed of their lies," he said in a statement.

Abyan's lawyers say they have no way to contact the woman, who is now 14 weeks pregnant.

"I need to talk to her. She's currently in the hands of the Australian Government and I have no ability to communicate with her," Mr Newhouse said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the case left her speechless.

"This is just horrific. Playing with the life with this young woman to send a message to others," she said.

"Peter Dutton [is] clearly wanting to send a message to other women — there's a number of pregnant women on the island — that they won't be brought to Australia under any circumstances."