Friday 30 September 2016

Woman at centre of abortion controversy settles High Court challenge

Aodhan O Faolain

Published 03/11/2015 | 15:53

Court stock image
Court stock image

A High Court challenge, brought by the woman at the centre of an abortion controversy last year and aimed at stopping a HSE inquiry into the care provided to her by various state agencies, has been struck out.

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The woman, who can only be referred to as Ms Y, is an asylum seeker who arrived in Ireland in early 2014. 

She had been raped in her home country and subsequently discovered she was pregnant. 

She sought an abortion on the grounds of feeling suicidal.

Despite seeing a number of agencies, the pregnancy was well advanced by the time her case was assessed by a three-doctor panel.

She had a caesarean section against her initial wishes, and the child was placed in state care.

As a result a HSE inquiry was set up, which in High Court proceedings against the HSE she had opposed.

Welcoming the settlement Ms Y's representatives said in a statement afterwards that the HSE had effectively agreed "to quash a draft report" complied after an inquiry was established to examine the response of the State and other agencies in the case.

Her lawyers had argued the manner in which the HSE inquiry was conducted, which she has been unable to participate in due to her ill health, breached her rights to fair procedures and constitutional justice.

Ms Y,  sought an order from the High Court halting the inquiry, which was commenced in August 2014.  She also sought an order quashing a draft report concerning her case allegedly "leaked to media".

The HSE had opposed the application.  The three day action was due to commence before the High Court on Tuesday.

However following talks between the parties  High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told by Richard Kean SC for Ms Y  the matter could be struck out, with no further order required.

Maurice Collins SC for the HSE said his client was consenting to the matter being struck out.

No further details of any settlement was given to the court.

A statement on behalf of Ms Y, who is represented by solicitor Caoimhe Haughey, confirmed her delight that "it was not necessary to proceed with the judicial review proceedings against the HSE"

The statement said "the HSE have confirmed it will not publish circulate within the HSE or disclose to any third party the so called draft report into her care, and that the report will never be used in a manner that infringes Ms Y's legal rights."

The proceedings were brought to quash the report, which has no effectively been achieved.

The report was now "entirely redundant". "Ms Y feels vindicated in her refusal to ever accept the draft report or any of its findings."

"Ms Y will now move forward and advance her case for damages expeditiously" the Statement concluded.

When the matter came before the High Court last December it was claimed the draft report was put together in the absence of Ms Y being interviewed. 

The court had also heard Ms Y suffers from a medical condition and is described as being "extremely vulnerable."

Ms Y's version of events should have been ascertained before any report was compiled it was claimed.

The leak of the draft report, the contents of which were featured in both print and broadcast media, had "compounded her illness," and had breached Ms Y rights including her right to privacy, she claimed.

Ms Y was also unhappy that the four person inquiry team appointed by the HSE to conduct the inquiry was composed of individuals who were or had been in the past employees of the HSE.

This gave rise to an apprehension of "bias".

The inquiry team did not include either a consultant obstetrician and a consultant psychiatrist, it had also been submitted.

A stay had been placed on the inquiry from proceeding pending the outcome of the action.

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