HSE told of abortion case concerns in May

IFPA and Department of Justice say they will co-operate fully with inquiry

Concerns for the psychological welfare of the young woman at the centre of the latest abortion controversy were brought to the HSE at the end of May.

Concerns for the psychological welfare of the young woman at the centre of the latest abortion controversy were brought to the HSE at the end of May.

 

Concerns for the psychological welfare of the young woman at the centre of the latest abortion controversy were brought to the HSE at the end of May, two months earlier than has been reported, it is understood.

The young woman, who was 16 weeks pregnant at the time, attempted to take her own life at that point, she has said.

Her pregnancy was delivered by Caesarean section earlier this month, at 25 weeks gestation. She was suicidal and says she had been refused a termination under the new abortion legislation.

She says she was pregnant as a result of rape before she came to the country and first asked for an abortion when she was eight weeks and four days pregnant, at the beginning of April. She was referred to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) for counselling.

When told that the cost of travelling for an abortion could be as high as €1,500 at an IFPA counselling session in late May, she said she would rather die than continue with the pregnancy. The Irish Times understands she was then referred to a HSE staff member.

The revelation raises new questions about the HSE’s role in her care and why she was not referred at this stage to a GP, who could then refer her on to a psychiatrist under the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. The Act did not come into play in her case until July, when she attended a GP and was then referred to a psychiatrist.

A panel of two psychiatrists and one obstetrician was convened and it was agreed that she was suicidal and that the pregnancy should be ended. The care she received is now to be reviewed by the HSE.

The terms of reference for that review are expected to be published today. The care she received from the time she found out she was pregnant in early April until the time she was delivered this month will be investigated.

Both the IFPA and the Department of Justice say they will co-operate fully with the investigation.

The HSE, when asked yesterday about the case being brought to its attention in May, reiterated that its director general had requested a report be completed for him that seeks to establish the full facts surrounding the case. “We will not be in a position to comment until these facts are established,” a spokeswoman said

The IFPA will not comment on the young woman’s case, citing client confidentiality. However, its chief executive, Niall Behan, said the association always did “all we possibly can” to assist women in crisis pregnancy.

“The IFPA has worked with many women and girls in a crisis pregnancy situation whose freedom of travel is restricted,” he said.

He said for some the barriers were so insurmountable as to make travel impossible.

“The IFPA has consistently raised concerns to the relevant national authorities and international human rights bodies regarding the unacceptable situation these women and girls face.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said some of those commenting did not know all the facts of the case.

“I want to see the HSE review before engaging in any detailed way.”