HSE to set up internal review into abortion case

Monday 18 August 2014 23.24
1 of 3
Report into controversy has been sought by Tony O'Brien
Report into controversy has been sought by Tony O'Brien
Jan O'Sullivan said a new referendum would not be held under the current Government
Jan O'Sullivan said a new referendum would not be held under the current Government
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is to deliver a report on the issue
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is to deliver a report on the issue

The Health Service Executive is setting up an internal review to report into the care provided to the woman at the centre of the controversy over the decision to refuse a termination of pregnancy.

The young woman who says she was raped and was judged to be suicidal had a request for an abortion refused by a panel of medical experts.

The panel did not certify that a termination of pregnancy under the legislation should proceed.
 
It decided that the pregnancy could end with the baby being delivered by Caesarean section.

The review will not examine the clinical decision made to recommend the C-section at between 24 and 25 weeks and to refuse an abortion.

It will look at reports of a gap between the time the woman first sought a termination at around eight weeks and when she was admitted to hospital seeking a termination in her second trimester.

It will also seek to establish the facts, the sequence of events, the operation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act and any lessons that can be learned.

The report has been sought by HSE Director General Tony O' Brien.

The HSE says the report is expected to be completed by September and published, subject to privacy restrictions.

The executive said it hoped the report would end any inaccurate commentary surrounding the matter currently.

Earlier, Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan has said she would like to see a referendum held on repealing the eighth amendment to the Constitution, which "acknowledged the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother".

However, the minister said it will not happen under the current Government.

Speaking this morning, Ms O'Sullivan said a future government would have to look at holding another referendum.

She added: "I personally would be concerned in particular about the issue where a mother has to carry a foetus that is not going to survive outside the womb."

She said she believed that women in particular feel strongly that such cases need to be revisited.

Commenting on the case that emerged in media reports over the weekend, Ms O'Sullivan said it was a very, very difficult case.

Ms O’Sullivan said there appeared to have been some time delay in the case but she did not know the reasons for it.

She said she could not comment further on the individual case.

Ms O'Sullivan said the legislation that has been introduced was all that was possible under the Constitution.

She said the monitoring process attached to the legislation had to be allowed to take its course and that the legislation must be kept under review.

Meanwhile, Labour Senator and legal professor Ivana Bacik has said the constitutional convention should be convened in the lifetime of this Government to review the constitutional position on abortion.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, she said the convention should look at repealing the eighth amendment to ensure that a rational set of legislative measures on abortion is put in place.

Ms Bacik said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation was very restrictive, but was very much hemmed in by the constitutional parameters.

Speaking on the same programme, Caroline Simons, legal consultant and spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign said once there was a departure from evidence-based medicine as the basis on which decisions were made in critical pregnancies, then situations like the case reported in recent days would arise.

Reacting to the call by Ms Bacik for the constitutional convention to be convened to look at the issue, Ms Simons said it was the Labour Party's wish to remove any protection that existed for an unborn baby.

Ms Simons said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation was not restrictive.

She said the legislation was requiring people to do something for which there was no medical evidence.

Elsewhere, the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said it will gather feedback on how the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act works in practice.

It said it will share this with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to inform his report on the issue next year.

The institute said it does not comment on individual cases.

It added that its members work within the legal framework.