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.’