HEALTH officials say they have no information about the number of pregnant women who have taken their own lives, despite plans to allow for threat of suicide as grounds for abortion.
Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch said the Central Statistics Office compiles data on suicides and is informed by the death certificate, the coroner's office and a form completed by gardai following an inquest.
"However, information on the number of women who died by suicide and who were pregnant is not collected," she told TD Clare Daly.
Three days of hearings on the proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill begin today before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. The biggest area of controversy at the hearings is expected to be the inclusion of suicide risk as grounds for abortion, with many psychiatrists saying there is no evidence to show a termination is a treatment in these situations.
On Monday, psychiatrists with opposing views will have their say. The sessions will also include contributions from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the Mental Health Commission and a cardiologist and cancer specialist.
The final day will hear from legal experts. Included in the medical law panel is Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign.
The committee has, however, refused requests to speak from lobby groups and women affected by abortion, including those who had terminations abroad because their unborn baby had a fatal birth defect.