Saturday 20 October 2018

Ms Y 'too fragile' to help inquiry into her treatment

HSE forced to 'pause' review into case of young woman at the centre of abortion controversy

Ms Y's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, told the Sunday Independent yesterday that her client was too fragile to participate. (picture posed)
Ms Y's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, told the Sunday Independent yesterday that her client was too fragile to participate. (picture posed)
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Health Service Executive has "paused" its inquiry into the treatment of Ms Y after a medical report found she was not well enough to participate.

The long-awaited review of the care given to the young asylum seeker - who was pregnant and suicidal and wanted an abortion, but ended up delivering her baby by caesarean section - is now likely to be postponed indefinitely.

The case reignited debate over Ireland's abortion laws.

The HSE confirmed this weekend that the review had been "paused" to allow further time for Ms Y's participation. A review panel had hoped to complete the report by last month, but progress was hampered because the panel was unable to interview her.

Ms Y's solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, told the Sunday Independent yesterday that her client was too fragile to participate.

She said the HSE gave her client an "ultimatum" in recent weeks, suggesting that the review would proceed without her. Following the ultimatum, Ms Haughey commissioned a psychiatric assessment of her client "as a matter of urgency" to demonstrate her fragility and vulnerability. The report was circulated to the HSE's review panel and the chief medical officer in the Department of Health.

"The inquiry team wrote back accepting my client's state of mind. They are 'pausing' the inquiry," Ms Haughey said yesterday.

"It is axiomatic that this young girl has been traumatised by what was done to her in this country. My client is the subject matter of the inquiry, her participation is fundamental. I have made it very clearly known that a decision on my client's participation has been deferred for various reasons," she said.

"This young girl has been traumatised enormously by what she has suffered while she has been in this country. What flows from that are other issues, her safety, her mental health and welfare. This is what I have repeatedly brought to the attention of the HSE."

Ms Y discovered she was pregnant soon after she arrived in Ireland seeking asylum. She said she had been raped in her home country. She sought an abortion and was suicidal. By the time she accessed care, she was told her pregnancy was too advanced and her baby was delivered prematurely by caesarean section instead.

In the early stages of her pregnancy, she was being advised on getting official permission to travel to the UK to have an abortion there. She withdrew when she learnt of the costs involved. Instead she travelled there under her own steam, where she was detained and returned to Ireland.

A HSE spokesman said yesterday that the review team had now interviewed "most of the key players involved in this matter.

"It has, however, paused the completion of its report to allow further time for Ms Y's participation, which is viewed as critical and the HSE urges her participation in this important matter," he said.

Despite being unable to interview Ms Y, the HSE's review team produced a draft report that was leaked six weeks ago. It identified "missed opportunities" and found that the various agencies dealing with her were constrained by the legislation.

The development is another setback for the HSE, which has been criticised over its handling of the Ms Y case, which is now the subject of two reviews. As well as the review of her care, a second review is under way into the "reasonableness or otherwise" of the "legal approach" taken by the health authority.

Sunday Independent

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