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Sunday 25 September 2016

Miss Y's solicitor is left 'dumbfounded' by behaviour of HSE

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 09/06/2015 | 02:30

HSE chief Tony O’Brien
HSE chief Tony O’Brien

THE failure of the HSE to inform a young woman at the centre of a massive abortion controversy last year that a review of the State's legal strategy in the case is underway has left her lawyers "dumbfounded".

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The young asylum seeker, who claims she was raped in her own country, became the first to seek an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act passed in mid-2013.

Dublin solicitor Caoimhe Haughey, who acts for the woman, Miss Y, said she has been unable to get any information from the HSE on the review.

Miss Y came here in March 2014 and found she was pregnant a month later.

Ms Haughey said she has contacted the HSE on two occasions about the review but has not received any response.

In January, the Department of Health directed her to the office of HSE Director General Tony O'Brien.

The HSE, which started the review, headed by senior counsel Eileen Barrington, nearly nine months ago, has insisted there is no need to consult with Miss Y's solicitor.

However, Ms Haughey told the Irish Independent:"At the very least they should have told Miss Y's lawyers there is another review underway.

"It does involve her. The whole reason why any review is taking place is because of what happened to my client.

Transparency

"We need to know who is conducting the review and what are the terms of reference.

"What stage is it at currently? Who has been interviewed? What medical or other records have been disclosed?"

She added: "Dealing with the HSE in terms of transparency has always proved very difficult."

Miss Y sought an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act on the grounds of feeling suicidal. At one point she fled to England but was turned back. She encountered several agencies during her pregnancy and was eventually judged suicidal when she was 26 weeks' pregnant after appearing before a panel of three doctors convened under the legislation .

When she went on hunger strike, the HSE obtained a High Court order to forcibly hydrate her.

It was preparing a second legal action in relation to the legality of terminating her pregnancy. The hydration did not go ahead after the woman consented to have the baby delivered.

The baby was born by Caesarean section at about 26 weeks, on August 6.

The Department of Health was unaware of the court proceedings which were believed to have been initiated at local level.

Miss Y has since been granted asylum. Her baby is now in care following a District Court order which continues until June 2017.

The order was made in a private court hearing lasting over three hours. The order was made to allow time to consider Miss Y's health.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar is to produce the first annual report on the legislation later this month.

This will detail the number and type of terminations which were carried out under the Act which allows for pregnancy to be ended where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including risk of suicide. It is understood a number of terminations were carried out on physical grounds in hospital to save mother's lives.

Irish Independent

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