Doctor who signed off on abortion ‘never met or examined mother’, Dáil hears

Case of termination after misleading test result raised by Peadar Tóibín under privilege

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín raised the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín raised the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A couple seeking an independent investigation after an abortion on the basis of a misleading test result say their call has been ignored by Government, the Dáil has heard.

The termination was carried out at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin for reasons of fatal foetal abnormality, but another test later showed no abnormality had been present.

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín, formerly a Sinn Féin deputy, raised the case with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and said he had spoken to the couple’s solicitor about the case.

“The medical practitioner who signed off on the abortion never examined or met the mother in advance of the abortion. If that is the case, it is contrary to the law brought in by the Government and it is illegal,” Mr Tóibín said.

The couple “claim that their child would be with them today, were it not for the actions of the hospital”, he added.

The Meath TD also said the family was “shocked by allegations that the medical professionals signing off on the abortions have a commercial interest in the companies that produced the fatally insufficient test”.

The family was also shocked “to hear that the State Claims Agency will indemnify the private company that carried out the fatally insufficient tests”.

Mr Tóibín said: “The family state that their calls for an independent investigation have been ignored by the Government and that they have had no real input into the terms of reference of the internal review which the Government is planning”.

In the case at the Holles Street hospital the couple was advised that their baby had Edward’s Syndrome and would not survive. A termination occurred after two of three tests were carried out.

The results of a final, more detailed test showed the baby did not have the fatal foetal abnormality.

Mr Varadkar said he did not wish “to get involved in commenting on an individual case, even one that is very sad, such as this one, particularly when there may be legal proceedings under way”.

He said he was “not party to all of the information from the family affected or from the hospital’s side”.

However, Mr Varadkar told Mr Tóibín that Minister for Health Simon Harris “wants and expects an external inquiry into the facts of the case to be carried out”.

In a statement released later, the National Maternity Hospital challenged Mr Tóibín’s remarks.

“The National Maternity Hospital, despite what was alleged by Peadar Tóibín in the Dáil today, is actively engaged in commissioning an external review of this sensitive case,” the statement said.

“The family were informed that the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) had been requested to perform the external review, but they were not in a position to do so.”

The hospital said that, since then, significant progress had been made with the RCOG in respect of membership of the external review and the terms of reference, and it hoped to be in a position to finalise those shortly.

“It was not the hospital’s intention to make any comment at this stage but we felt it necessary to respond to matters stated under parliamentary privilege which the Deputy suggests is an account given to him by a legal representative of the family.

“It is not the intention of the hospital to comment further pending the outcome of the review.”