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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Girl's case leaves many unanswered questions

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A number of unanswered questions arise in the case of the teenage girl who was sectioned after expressing a wish to have an abortion.

For example, it is not known from the court proceedings whether the psychiatric assessment which led to her being detained in a mental health unit was conducted on foot of a specific request for an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.

The act allows for abortion where there is a risk to the life of the mother from pregnancy, including loss of life from suicide.

In relation to the suicide risk, three physicians, including two psychiatrists, must concur.


However, while it was clear from the court proceedings the girl wanted a termination and was assessed by a psychiatrist, no mention was made of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act during the hearing covered by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).

It appeared from the proceedings that the girl had an expectation she would be allowed to have a termination here.

Certainly she and her mother believed she was being transferred to Dublin for a termination, only to learn she was actually being placed in a mental health unit.

No allegation was made in court that the girl and her mother were misled. It is possible their belief could have been the result of a misunderstanding or a communication issue.


It is also unclear what happened subsequent to the case as the CCLRP is confined to reporting on what occurs in court.

It is not known if the girl subsequently decided to travel abroad for an abortion or opted to go ahead with the pregnancy.

Irish Independent

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