Doctors for Choice calls for independent inquiry into case of raped young migrant denied an abortion

​Doctors for Choice wishes to express its shock and outrage at what appears to have been a pattern of cruel inhuman and degrading treatment meted out​ to the young migrant woman rape survivor who was denied an abortion recently in Ireland. Reports in today’s Irish Times are horrific and numbing.

Dr Mary Favier said ‘We are particularly concerned that the only options that appear to have been available to this young woman were an enforced cesarean or a forced pregnancy. No other European country would countenance this barbaric practice.’

She added ‘We therefore call on the HSE to set up an independent inquiry and recall Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran to chair it. We recognise that Professor Arulkumaran has an eminent professional background and that he gained a valuable insight into the Irish Health Service having chaired the Savita Inquiry in 2013. We request that an independent inquiry be set up as a matter of urgency’ she added.

​Dr Peadar O’Grady said ‘In addition we request the Government  hold a referendum in 2015 to repeal the 8th amendment​. We believe that the​re is no bright line distinction between the​ health and lives of women- we believe doctors must practice a continuum of healthcare and that abortion should be decriminalised.’

He added ‘ The Irish Government continues to fail to meet two tests arising from the judgment of A,B and C v Ireland- there must be an effective and accessible procedure for abortion- the guidelines appear to not even guarantee an abortion for a woman at the risk of suicide.’

Furthermore ‘In addition the ‘chilling effect’ of 14 years prison for doctors and women in the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 persists’.

Doctors for Choice express shock and outrage at ordeal of woman denied an abortion

While acknowledging the incomplete and uncertain facts in this tragic case, Doctors for Choice believe certain urgent questions arise that need to be addressed:

1 Why was the woman involved denied access to abortion?
2 Was she faciltated to avail of a panel assessment and an appeal?
3 Did the panel certify eligibility? If not why no appeal? If so why was abortion not carried out? Was there a delay in certifying eligibilty in order for the gestation to exceed 24 weeks?
4 Why was her consent to an abortion and refusal to consent to a cesarean not vindicated by HSE or courts?
5 On what grounds was an hydration order made?’

These questions raise very disturbing possibilities for the abuse of a vulnerable adult. There seem to have been reasonable grounds for the HSE to suspect that neglect of this young woman’s need to access an abortion would result in significant harm (suicide) as certified by two Psychiatrists. Was this Neglect of a vulnerable adult investigated and what was done by the HSE to protect her?’

Doctors for Choice wishes to express our shock and outrage at reports that a raped woman who went on food and liquid strike in Ireland was denied an abortion in line with the X Case. From reports it would seem that the only options afforded the woman were an enforced cesarean or a forced pregnancy.  It is reported that the woman  who became pregnant as a result of rape believes the state denied her access to an abortion for months, until the foetus became viable.

Doctors for Choice warned last year about the flawed panel review system which includes obstetricians who are not trained to adjudicate on mental health issues and excludes GPs who are trained to manage pregnancies in primary care up to 16 weeks.

It appears that the obstetrician in line with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was allowed to veto the woman’s request for an abortion despite two psychiatrists certifying a risk of suicide as a ground for abortion. The UN Human Rights Committee recently characterised this panel review system route for vulnerable women as a form of ‘mental torture’.

Dr Peadar O’Grady, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist said ‘This is abuse of a traumatised and neglected woman. We have to repeal the 8th amendment and decriminalise abortion as the UN Human Rights Committee rightly advised. Do we need blue helmets to provide abortion services in Ireland?

Dr Mary Favier, a Cork based GP said ‘This case underlines the problems inherent in the legislation of balancing a woman’s rights with those of a foetus and threatening doctors with 14 years in prison for failing to do so. This is compounded by the requirement to use multiple doctors to certify eligibility (up to 7 medical assessments) and including an Obstetrician in certifying a risk of suicide.

She added ‘If a young, rape victim, certified as requiring an abortion due to the risk of suicide cannot access abortion services then the legislation and its implementation are clearly fatally flawed.’