HSE accused of failing to engage with Miss Y case reviewMonday 15 February 2016 20.31
Lawyers representing the young woman at the centre of the Miss Y case have written to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar claiming the Health Service Executive has failed to engage regarding its review of the legal approach taken in the case.
Her solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, said she is also seeking a copy of the draft report when it is completed.
The letter to the minister seeks his help in ensuring that the HSE be "open, upfront, transparent and forthcoming" with regard to the review.
Miss Y was a teenage asylum-seeker who came to Ireland in late March 2014.
She said she had been raped in her home country and discovered in April that she was pregnant.
She felt suicidal and sought a termination of pregnancy under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.
She travelled to the UK in July but was denied entry due to her legal status here.
Miss Y was deemed to be suicidal by a medical panel under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act and a termination of pregnancy was carried out, by delivering the baby by caesarean section at around 26 weeks.
The issue of her seeking a termination of pregnancy and being provided with a caesarean section is a matter of dispute.
Miss Y's lawyers have raised concerns about when the review into the matter, which was commissioned 18 months ago, will be completed and have questioned if it "will ever see the light of day".
Solicitor representing the young woman at the centre of the 'Y case' has asked why the HSE review is taking so longhttps://t.co/UV1CPREyJ6— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 15, 2016
Ms Haughey has asked why the review is taking so long, given that it concerns a couple of days in August 2014 and the number of individuals directly involved was small.
The Miss Y case is believed to be the first under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act related to termination sought on the grounds of suicide.
The HSE review was set up in September 2014 and is being conducted by Senior Counsel Eileen Barrington and is examining several issues, principally the decision to involve the High Court at any stage.
The HSE told RTÉ News that the review is "well-advanced" but the process has not been completed.
It also said that the terms of reference do not necessarily require a copy of the report to be provided to Miss Y's lawyers.
The review was commissioned by HSE Director General Tony O'Brien to examine the reasonableness, or otherwise, of the legal approach taken in the Miss Y case and to identify any matters that could be learned from the case.
It was originally expected to be completed by the end of October last year but has been delayed.
Lawyers for Miss Y have sought the assistance of Minister Varadkar and say they are at a loss to understand why the HSE will not agree to the requests they have made, which they believe are necessary, reasonable and fair.
Ms Haughey said that Miss Y remains under medical care with her medical team.
She said Miss Y is "an intensely private young woman and is doing her best to move on with her life and we are doing everything we can to help her in that regard".
In November 2014, a District Court directed that a care order for Miss Y's baby be continued until June 2017.
Tensions between department and HSE
The handling of the Miss Y case led to major tensions between the Department of Health and the HSE.
The department learned late in the day of the legal course of action being taken by the executive in relation to forcible hydration and termination of pregnancy.
The baby was delivered on 6 August 2014 at which point it was deemed viable.
The HSE sought to have Miss Y forcibly hydrated, and was planning to seek court approval for an early delivery of her baby.
It never became necessary to forcibly hydrate her and court approval for an early delivery of the baby was not needed, as Miss Y consented to a termination of pregnancy.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 does not refer to Caesarean section.
Draft guidelines on the Act published by the Department of Health in July 2014 did not mention c-section, however revised guidelines issued in September 2014, after the Miss Y case, included Caesarean section as a suitable alternative means of terminating a pregnancy, where the woman's life is at risk.
In November 2015, the HSE agreed not to publish, circulate within the HSE or disclose to any third party, a separate 'draft' report into the care provided to Miss Y.
Lawyers for Miss Y had initiated High Court proceedings by way of Judicial Review, seeking to quash the draft report, which they refused to accept, or any of its findings.