Friday 23 February 2018

Leo at war with HSE over Ms Y

Department ordered HSE to halt court action to force feed abortion case woman

Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

THE Health Service Executive called off a series of High Court actions to forcibly hydrate a pregnant young asylum seeker who was on hunger strike and seeking an abortion after an unprecedented intervention by the Department of Health.

Department officials raised serious concerns for the woman's welfare after they learned of the HSE's action. They then confronted the agency's "leadership", including its director general Tony O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien was apparently unaware of the court actions until he was contacted by the Department of Health. He called a halt to the proceedings and has retained a senior counsel to review the "legal approach" taken in the case.

The dramatic intervention occurred over the August bank holiday weekend as Ms Y - who was then six months pregnant, suicidal and in hospital hoping for an abortion - was told that her pregnancy was too advanced and that her baby would be delivered by Caesarean section. She refused food and liquid in protest.

The department was concerned that the local team caring for her obtained a High Court order to forcibly hydrate the woman and were preparing a second High Court application in relation to terminating the young woman's pregnancy.

A spokesman for Health Minister Leo Varadkar's department said: "The department became aware of the course of action being followed by the HSE legal team at a very late stage. The department was very concerned at the approach the HSE legal team was taking and following discussions between the department and the HSE leadership, the HSE legal team decided not to pursue its planned approach."

The HSE last night confirmed that senior management ordered that the legal actions be brought to an end after they reviewed the case.

Full story, Page 6

Sunday Independent

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