Minister ‘shocked’ at death of woman after UK abortion

London Metropolitan Police investigating death of 32-year-old from Ireland

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald talking to reporters about the death of a woman who went from Ireland to the UK for an abortion. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald talking to reporters about the death of a woman who went from Ireland to the UK for an abortion. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 18:24

The death of a woman who travelled to England for an abortion was ‘extremely shocking’ and raised issues being dealt with in the abortion Bill, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said today.

“I was extremely shocked. The fact that the woman had left the clinic and started bleeding in a taxi, clearly it’s very important that we hear the outcome of that investigation and understand what were the factors that led to this traumatic and dreadful outcome,” she said.

The London Metropolitan Police are investigating the case of the woman who travelled from Dublin to London for an abortion but died hours after the procedure had taken place.

The 32-year-old woman, who was a foreign national living in Ireland, underwent an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic in west London. However, she died in a taxi hours after the procedure.

The woman, who was legally resident in Ireland, had sought an abortion at a maternity hospital in Dublin but had been told that it was not legally possible to provide one in this jurisdiction.

She is understood to have had a condition which raised the risk of miscarriage, although it was not believed to be in any way life-threatening.

The Met confirmed it is investigating the circumstances surrounding the case and preparing a file for the Crown Prosecution Services.

Marie Stopes yesterday declined to comment on the case on the basis of client-confidentiality.

Ms Fitzgerald said the case “raised issues being dealt with in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill” which is still going through the Oireachtas.

She added that it was important women who travelled to England for abortion were aware that aftercare was available to them when they return to this country.

The woman died in January 2012. An inquest has not yet been held into the woman’s death as the police investigation is continuing.

After the termination, she had been kept on at the clinic for observation, according to her husband.

She later took a taxi to her cousin’s house outside London, but suffered major internal bleeding while in the cab.

The woman was then taken to Wrexham Park hospital in Slough, but pronounced dead on arrival.

Her husband said he was told by police authorities that she died of a cardiac arrest due to major blood loss.

The woman’s husband, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is still waiting for answers but is frustrated at the lack of progress.

“I think if this was an Irish or a British woman, we would know what happened to her. But I am still waiting for answers,” he told The Irish Times.

He also said he was frustrated at the lack of assistance from some Irish authorities in seeking an abortion for his wife.

He said his wife had a child in Ireland in 2010 but the pregnancy was painful and complicated by extensive fibroids.

The husband said the couple was told that treatment of the condition could involve a procedure that would leave her infertile.

“We were worried about what would happen when she became pregnant again,” he said.

“She was sick, but we were told that nothing could be done in Ireland.”

He said his wife was about 20 weeks pregnant when she travelled to Britain for an abortion. She might have had an abortion sooner, he added, but he and his wife had spent time exploring the various options available to them and raising money for the procedure.

“We were left on our own to deal with it. We didn’t get any help at all,” he said.

Both he and his wife were in Ireland on student visas at the time. He is now 33 years of age and living in Ireland with his three-year-old daughter.

The woman’s case is likely to be examined by the UK’s Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries, an organisation aimed at reducing the incidence of maternal mortality.

Maternal deaths are relatively rare in the UK. A recent report by the centre found that between 2006 and 2008 a total of 261 women in the UK died directly or indirectly related to pregnancy.

The overall maternal mortality rate was 11 per 100,000 maternities.

Thousands of Irish women travel to the UK for abortions every year. Latest figures show that almost 4,000 women from the Republic travelled to England or Wales for an abortion last year.