Abortion: Woman ‘refused termination’ at Dublin hospital

Woman at clinicImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Republic of Ireland voted to overturn its abortion ban in a referendum in May

A woman in the Irish Republic was refused an abortion despite her unborn baby being diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality, the Dáil (parliament) has heard.

It is alleged that the termination was denied at Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The woman was told she must wait four weeks to see if there was a spontaneous miscarriage, the Dáil was told.

Coombe Hospital says it currently lacks the resources to provide a full range of abortion services.

Abortion became legal in the Republic of Ireland last month after a 66.4% vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking about the woman’s case in the Dáil on Thursday, Ruth Coppinger of the anti-austerity party Solidarity-PBP said that two consultants had confirmed a case of fatal foetal abnormality but the hospital’s board had refused a termination.

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act states that a termination is allowed when two obstetricians confirm that the foetus will not survive outside the womb.

“Now it appears the board of the Coombe Hospital is refusing her constitutional right that we all voted for to have an abortion at a time she chooses,” said Ms Coppinger.

Dáil speaker Seán Ó Fearghaíl said it was not appropriate for the Dáil to discuss individual medical circumstances.

But Bríd Smith, another Solidarity-PBP member, said the woman in question had contacted her party and asked for the case to be raised in parliament.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the law was clear but he agreed with Mr Ó Fearghaíl that it was not appropriate to raise the case on the floor of the Dáil.

The woman is reportedly considering travelling to England for an abortion.

This case has raised questions among pro-choice activists about whether hospitals in Ireland are fully prepared and willing to implement the new law.

Linda Kavanagh, from the Abortion Rights Campaign (Arc), says she’s worried that despite the hard-fought-for legislation change, this won’t be the only case of a woman being “left behind”.

“Up until this woman’s story broke, we thought people would just travel within this country – which is still not really good enough,” she told BBC News. “But we thought we were done with the days of having to go to the UK [for terminations].”

Coombe Hospital said that claims that its board had had a role in determining whether or not the criteria for a termination had been met were untrue.

A spokesman told BBC News on Friday that “currently they [the hospital] haven’t implemented the full range of abortion services” because they’re “not confident they can provide the full range of care”.

“When they are satisfied they can carry out the full range of services then they will be bringing those to the hospital,” he added.

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