Sunday 17 December 2017

HSE to quiz doctors who treated abortion girl

Doctors, nurses and counsellors who treated the young asylum seeker will be interviewed this week
Doctors, nurses and counsellors who treated the young asylum seeker will be interviewed this week

Maeve Sheehan and John Drennan

Doctors, nurses and counsellors who treated the young asylum seeker at the centre of the latest abortion controversy will be interviewed this week as part of an investigation of her care.

The public health team providing care to the woman were told that she was pregnant and suicidal when she was almost four months pregnant, but she was not referred for a possible termination under Ireland's new abortion laws until she was six months pregnant. By then it was too late for an abortion and her baby was delivered by Caesarean section.

The HSE set up an expert panel last week to investigate what care was given to the young woman, known as Ms Y, in the crucial two-month period before her baby was born.

The Irish Family Planning Association and Spirasi, which counsels victims of torture, released files of correspondence, counselling notes and medical reports on the girl to the HSE's investigators last week.

The notes included copies of letters that a doctor with Spirasi sent to the Department of Justice and the medical team at the woman's accommodation centre in June, warning that she was suicidal and in need of psychological care. The Department of Justice is responsible for the girl's care.

Details of the Irish Family Planning Association's counselling sessions with the young woman have also been handed in to the HSE's investigation team.

However, the young woman lost contact with both groups when she was moved to another accommodation centre in a different part of the country, when she was around 16 weeks pregnant.

The focus of the HSE's investigation will be on what medical and psychiatric care was given to the young woman during this time.

She was finally referred for assessment for an abortion at 22 weeks, after the intervention of a friend.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell this weekend said the abortion issue is "the ghost that will haunt this administration".

Ms Mitchell last week said the article in the Constitution giving an equal right to life to mother and foetus should be repealed.

She told the Sunday Independent: "I am not trying to rock the boat, but this needs leadership from the top; political parties will have to provide voters with clear indications of their policies prior to the next election."

Ms Mitchell added: "Article 8 needs to be repealed before we can resolve this issue."

Sunday Independent

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