Abortion couple ‘felt abandoned’ by health system

Minister expresses shock over ‘traumatic and dreadful’ death

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald: expressed her shock at the death of the woman. Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald: expressed her shock at the death of the woman. Photograph: Frank Miller


The husband of a woman who died after travelling to Britain for an abortion has described how the couple felt abandoned by the health system in Ireland after seeking a termination.

She was diagnosed in Ireland with extensive fibroids, which can carry an elevated risk of miscarriage and other complications, but are not considered to be life-threatening.

After being advised that it was not legally possible to have an abortion in Ireland, he said health authorities had little interest in assisting the couple to get a termination abroad.

“We were told about all the complications . . . but we felt on our own when we decided to look for an abortion,” the woman’s husband told The Irish Times.

“We were left to find a clinic [in the UK] ourselves. Many told us ‘no’, it is not possible because it was too late. . . The only person who was very helpful was a midwife, who helped to find a clinic for us.

“She did this on her own to help us.”

The Rotunda Hospital – where the woman was treated while in Ireland – declined to comment yesterday on the basis of patient confidentiality.

The woman – who was of African origin – later underwent an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing in west London in January last year. She died in a taxi hours after the procedure.

The London Metropolitan Police is investigating the case and has confirmed that the 32-year- old woman died as a result of “extensive internal bleeding”.

The same clinic was at the centre of controversy in 2006 when a doctor was struck off the medical register for his treatment of an Irish woman.

The surgeon perforated the uterus of the unidentified woman and left parts of her foetus inside her. It is believed she required hospital treatment for a number of months after returning home.

Marie Stopes said at the time that it was an isolated case and that it had an excellent track record of care. It has declined to comment on the most recent case.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, meanwhile, has expressed shock at the death of the woman and said it raised issues being dealt with in abortion legislation being debated in the Oireachtas.

After care
Ms Fitzgerald added that it was important that women who travelled to England for abortions were aware that aftercare was available to them when they return to this country following the procedure.

The Pro Life Campaign said the woman’s death raised “major questions about the safety of abortion in certain clinics”.

It said some people were trying to use her death as a way to push for an abortion when it was obvious that the focus should be on what happened to her when she was treated at the Marie Stopes clinic.

An inquest into the woman’s death will only take place after police have completed their investigation.

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