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HSE to review case of woman who was denied an abortion

the HSE is to carry out an internal review of the case of a woman who had her baby delivered prematurely after being denied an abortion.

The woman - understood to be a foreign national and an asylum-seeker - had sought a termination under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 on the grounds that she was suicidal.

She informed a panel of three medical experts convened to consider her case that she had been raped, it is understood.

HSE director general Tony O'Brien has sought a report to establish "all of the facts surrounding the care" given to the woman, the organisation said in a statement.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section at 25 weeks.

Mr O'Brien is now seeking to "establish the full facts surrounding the matter, the sequence of events, the care given to the woman involved, the operation of the 2013 Act and any learnings that can be gleaned from the case", the HSE said.

"It is hoped that the report will end any inaccurate commentary."

The process is not a review of the decision taken by the clinicians involved in the case, the HSE added.

It will examine the delay between the woman first asking for an abortion at eight weeks and the panel not considering her case until the second trimester of her pregnancy.

The report is to be completed next month and will be published subject to privacy restrictions.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, said clinicians need laws to "protect" them when supporting women in their choices during pregnancy.

He said women are "well capable of making up their own minds as to what is best for them".


"As clinicians, we want to be in a position where we can support women in their choices. We need legislation around that to protect us, particularly the area of rape, incest and congenital malformation," he said.

"A baby born at 24 to 25 weeks is going to spend a long period of time in neo-natal intensive care.

"That is a huge cost to the health service, probably of the order of €60,000 to €90,000.

"You not only have the cost of care, you have the long-term issues - anything from mild learning disabilities to physical issues to cerebral palsy to long-term respiratory morbidity as well.

"Most of these (premature) babies will survive - 80 to 90pc of them will survive - but only 20 to 30pc will have intact survival."

Catholic lobby group the Iona Institute said the child in this case "is living proof of the inconvenient truth that abortion ends a life".

"There are better solutions for vulnerable women than the Hobson's choice of abortion or early delivery," the institute's Breda O'Brien said.

No matter what laws are introduced, there will always be difficulties, said Dr Anthony McCarthy, consultant perinatal psychiatrist at Holles Street hospital