‘Ms Y’ to sue 11 respondents over abortion refusal

Asylum seeker’s solicitor invited to comment on a draft review of HSE’s July 2014 decision

Ms Y, the asylum seeker who last year unsuccessfully sought an abortion after arriving in Ireland pregnant as a result of an alleged rape, will issue personal injury proceeding against 11 named respondents "in coming weeks".

Miss Y's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, has also been invited to comment on a draft of the independent review of the HSE's July 2014 decision, to seek a High Court order to forcibly hydrate Miss Y, who was on hunger and thirst strike at the time.

Unable to travel

Ms Y, who now has refugee status, came to Ireland in March last year and found out she was pregnant shortly after. She said she wanted an abortion. She was, however, unable to travel, given her legal status and the costs involved.

She came to the attention of the HSE in mid-July 2014 and said she was suicidal. Though deemed entitled to an abortion under the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, she did not receive one.

An infant boy was delivered by Caesarean section on August 6th, 2014, at 25 to 26 weeks’ gestation.

Court order

Prior to the Caesarean section, Miss Y had begun a hunger and thirst strike. On July 31st, 2014 the HSE instructed solicitors to seek a High Court order to forcibly feed and hydrate her. An order was sought on Saturday, August 2nd, and the case adjourned until August 5th.

In the end, however, Ms Y gave consent for the Caesarean section over the weekend and began taking fluids.

The question over whether it was appropriate to seek an order to forcibly hydrate her when she was not mentally impaired was raised subsequently. Eileen Barrington SC was appointed by the HSE’s director general, Tony O’Brien, in September last year to conduct the review.

The purpose of the review, according to the terms of reference, is to “establish the circumstances related to the legal steps taken in the case of Ms Y and, in particular, to consider the circumstances in which the instructions to make the court application were given, the manner in which the instructions were formulated and how those instructions were communicated to the legal team”.

The review is to cover the time between July 28th, 2014, when a legal team was engaged by the HSE, and August 4th, 2014, when it was decided not to proceed with the High Court application.


The review is to “consider the appropriateness of the court application” and to make recommendations “as appropriate”.

Ms Haughey, Miss Y’s solicitor, last night welcomed the invitation to engage with Ms Barrington’s review.

She said she expected to issue legal proceedings against 11 respondents, including the HSE, the Department of Justice and the two hospitals where her client was a patient.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times