Thursday 5 December 2019

Woman at centre of abortion row ‘sad, depressed but not suicidal’

She was told it was too late in her pregnancy for an abortion and her baby was delivered by Caesarean section at 25 weeks (picture posed)
She was told it was too late in her pregnancy for an abortion and her baby was delivered by Caesarean section at 25 weeks (picture posed)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The young woman at the centre of the latest abortion controversy was judged to be “sad and depressed” in the earlier stages of her pregnancy rather than suicidal, according to a draft of a report into her care.

The woman known as Ms Y was described as having “a strong death wish” after becoming pregnant following a rape, but none of the staff in agencies who assessed her thought she was at real and substantial risk of taking her own life.

However, she was also the victim of a lack of co-ordination between the agencies who did not have agreed protocols sharing  information.

The initial conclusions have emerged in a draft report of an inquiry team set up by the HSE to examine Ms Y’s care.

The young asylum seeker had arrived in Ireland earlier in the year and after a medical examination in April was told she was seven weeks pregnant.

The woman, who was raped in another country, was referred to the Irish Family Planning Association and informed staff she wanted an abortion.

However, she was not referred to a GP until late in her pregnancy. She continued to seek an abortion and was referred to the three-doctor panel.

The doctors deemed her suicidal – but arranged for the baby to be delivered at 25 weeks.

An initial draft report, obtained by RTE’s Prime Time, states that although Ms Y was undoubtedly extremely distressed and traumatised, none of the documentation reviewed, nor the interviews conducted by staff from various agencies, identified that she was at real and substantial risk of suicide.

The report said there was a consistent view expressed that she did exhibit signs of emotional distress and that the most appropriate referral was for crisis pregnancy counselling, which she received.

It said there was evidence that efforts were made to help her get documents to travel abroad for an abortion, but this process was not completed.

A doctor specialising in treating victims of torture told the report team that the woman “responded affirmatively” when asked about thoughts of ending her life or feeling trapped.

The doctor said Ms Y had a “strong death wish” and was “alarmed at the prospect of the baby”. She had “thoughts of self-harm but had no current intentions”.

The report said that agencies were constrained by existing legislation. There was a lack of co-ordination and no agreed system for sharing information.

A final report has yet to be carried out.The inquiry team has yet to interview the woman whose legal team are demanding all documentation before she gives evidence.

The HSE has stressed that the report was not finished and “any drafts in circulation should be treated as such and cannot be considered to present a full and final view”.

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