Saturday 24 February 2018

‘We must find out what happened to tragic woman’ says Frances Fitzgerald

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Ed Carty

It is important to uncover what caused a woman to die in a taxi after travelling from Ireland to the UK for an abortion, a Government minister has said.

The married 32-year-old, who was a foreign national living in the Irish Republic, underwent the procedure at a Marie Stopes clinic in west London in January last year.

She died in a taxi in Slough, Berkshire, hours after the procedure.

An inquest was opened and adjourned following the woman's death and subsequently transferred to the West London Coroner's Court.

The coroner's inquiry has been suspended pending a decision on prosecution by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ireland's Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald described the woman's death as a "traumatic and dreadful" tragedy.

"It's a tragic story. When I heard it this morning I was extremely shocked - The idea that the woman had left the clinic and started bleeding in the taxi," she said.

"Clearly, it's very important that we hear the outcome of that investigation and understand what were the factors that led to this dramatic and dreadful outcome and the death of this woman."

Concerns over the woman's death come as the Irish Government oversees the final stage of legislation to allow for abortion if a woman's life is at risk, including from the threat of suicide.

It is understood the dead woman's life was not in danger when she first sought a termination in an Irish hospital.

Marie Stopes International declined to comment citing client confidentiality.

The Metropolitan Police said a file on the woman's death had been passed to the CPS in April this year.

It is understood the woman was suddenly taken ill in the Slough area of Berkshire at about midnight on the day of the procedure while in a taxi.

She was pronounced dead at Wexham Park Hospital after suffering a heart attack caused by extensive internal blood loss.

The Met continue to investigate the sudden death, a spokesman said.

It is understood that detectives have been examining whether there is a case of professional negligence to answer in relation to the woman's death.

The woman's husband, who has not been named, told The Irish Times that he was frustrated over what he perceives as a lack of progress in the case.

"I think if this was an Irish or a British woman, we would know what happened to her. But I am still waiting for answers," he said.

The woman reportedly had a child in Ireland in 2010. Her pregnancy was painful and complicated by extensive fibroids and treatment could have left her her infertile.

It is understood the woman was about 20 weeks pregnant when she travelled to Britain for an abortion.

Her husband said she was examining options and raising money for the procedure.

The couple were in Ireland on student visas at the time of her death.

Latest figures from the UK show 3,982 women travelled from Ireland to England or Wales for an abortion last year, including 32 girls who were under the age of 16.

The Republic of Ireland accounted for 68% of all non-UK resident terminations in 2012.

Ms Fitzgerald reminded Irish women who travel to the UK for an abortion that aftercare, in obstetrics and gynaecological services, is available to them upon their return.

Sarah McCarthy, of the Abortion Rights Campaign, claimed that more women will die if access to terminations is not allowed in Ireland.

"This is such a tragedy and our deepest condolences and sympathies are with the bereaved family of this woman and we urge all legislators to put an end to these barbaric practices," she said.

"Forcing women to travel abroad for abortions makes finding aftercare extremely difficult and this tragedy stands testament to what can and may continue to happen if we as a nation leave women who are most in need of care left in situations as we hear of today."

Ms McCarthy said the woman's death was recorded as a UK death rather than in the country she first sought help in.

Press Association

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