Sunday 23 July 2017

Abortion order teenager gives birth at seven months

'However, the case also highlights issues about the existing abortion legislation and the resourcing of mental health services for children' Stock photo: PA
'However, the case also highlights issues about the existing abortion legislation and the resourcing of mental health services for children' Stock photo: PA
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

A suicidal girl gave birth to a baby three weeks after a legal order to terminate her seven-month pregnancy.

The distressed 16-year-old was put in a psychiatric hospital when she was seeking an abortion. She was later discharged as it was determined she had no mental health disorder - just three days after being legally granted a termination on "suicide" grounds.

The girl developed a close bond with the doctor who delivered the child seven months into the pregnancy.

Psychiatrists assessing the girl under separate laws over a 48-hour period gave seemingly contradictory views on the girl's mental health:

- Under the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act, 2013, she was deemed to be suicidal and granted a termination;

- Under the Mental Health Act, 2001, she was deemed to not be suicidal and released from a psychiatric hospital.

The case came to attention recently when details emerged about her committal, prompting debate about the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

However, the case also highlights issues about the existing abortion legislation and the resourcing of mental health services for children.

A panel of experts, convened under the abortion legislation, concluded the teenager should have a termination as she was suicidal. At that point, she was almost 25 weeks pregnant. This is beyond the time limit for abortions in Britain.

Within days, two other psychiatrists who assessed the girl's detention in psychiatric hospital concluded she was not suicidal.

She was assessed by at least five psychiatrists over 12 days.

The baby was born seven months into the pregnancy and is now living with the girl and her mother.

The obstetrician who delivered the baby and handled the termination order has been praised for handling the case sensibly and compassionately.

- Due to reporting restrictions imposed by the court to avoid identifying the girl and circumstances around the case, the identity of the girl and the names of the facilities where she was treated are not included.

Irish Independent

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