Tuesday 16 July 2019

Medic who signed off on abortion of child in belief of fatal foetal abnormality 'never examined or met mother', Dáil hears

Peadar Toibin
Peadar Toibin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A MEDIC who signed off on an abortion in the belief the unborn child had a fatal foetal abnormality never examined or met the mother, it has been claimed.

A couple at the centre of a case involving the National Maternity Hospital believe an “illegal abortion” was carried out.

Peadar Tóibín TD
Peadar Tóibín TD

In March, a termination of pregnancy was performed after the parents were informed the child would not survive outside the womb.

The couple said they were advised that their baby had Trisomy18, also known as Edwards Syndrome. It followed the results of two of three tests.

However, the results of a third more detailed test, which came back after a termination was carried out, found there was no abnormality present.

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín told the Dáil that having spoken with a legal representative for the family he had serious concerns about the “desperately tragic case”.

“The family was falsely told that the child had a fatal foetal abnormality. The couple claim that their child would be with them today if it were not for the actions of the hospital,” Mr Tóibín said.

“They state that it was an illegal abortion and that the medical practitioners who signed off on the abortion never examined or met the mother her in advance of the abortion.

"If that is the case, it is contrary to the law brought in by the Government and it is illegal.”

The family has called for an independent investigation to be set up but to date the Government has only committed to an internal review.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) was expected to carry out the review but it has told Holles Street it cannot do so. 

Mr Tóibín also said the family are “shocked by allegations that the medical professionals signing off on the abortions have a commercial interest in the companies that produced the fatally insufficient test”. 

“This week, the bereaved family were shocked to hear that the State Claims Agency will indemnify the private company that carried out the fatally insufficient tests,” he said.

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was not party to all of the information from the family or hospital.

“I do not wish to get involved in commenting on an individual case, even one that is very sad, such as this one, particularly when there may be legal proceedings under way,” he said.

“However, I understand that the Minister, Deputy [Simon] Harris, wants and expects an external inquiry into the facts of the case to be carried out.”

Later, Holles Street hospital issued a statement disputing some of Mr Toibin's claims in the Dáil.

"The National Maternity Hospital, despite what was alleged by Peadar Toibin in the Dail today, is actively engaged in commissioning an external review of this sensitive case. 

"The family were informed that RCOG had been requested to perform the external review, but they were not in a position to do so. 

"Since then significant progress has been made with RCOG in respect of membership of the external review and the terms of reference and we hope to be in a position to finalise these shortly.

"It was not the hospital’s intention to make any comment at this stage but we felt it necessary to respond to matters stated under parliamentary privilege which the Deputy suggests is an account given to him by a legal representative of the family. It is not the intention of the hospital to comment further pending the outcome of the review.”

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