CORK TD Mick Barry has described as ‘outrageous’ reports that a pregnant woman with a Fatal Foetal Abnormality (FFA) diagnosis was refused a termination in an Irish hospital.
“It is a denial of the woman’s constitutional rights and it would be an absolute scandal if this woman was forced to go to Britain for a termination,” Mr Barry said.
The case was raised in the Dáil yesterday by TDs Ruth Coppinger and Bríd Smith, who said they had been contacted by the woman.
Ms Coppinger said the woman told her that the Fatal Foetal Abnormality had been certified by two consultants.
“Now it appears the board of the Coombe Hospital is refusing her constitutional right to have an abortion at a time that she chooses,” Ms Coppinger said.
“Instead, they have told her that she must wait another four weeks to see if there is a spontaneous miscarriage.”
The TDs said during the woman’s 12-week scan in her 13th week of pregnancy on January 3, she and her partner were told by their obstetrician their foetus had a fatal foetal abnormality.
In a follow-up scan on January 10, a second obstetrician confirmed the diagnosis as the developing organs of the foetus, including the heart, were in the wrong position, and discussed an abortion with the doctors, who said they needed to meet with an internal ‘board’ to finalise the decision.
The Coombe Hospital has denied its board overruled the decision of two consultants.
The case has also been criticised by a spokesperson for Rebels4Choice.
“The law is clear on this, and the people voted overwhelmingly for that law - in fact, the people of Ireland made it clear that the law does not go far enough, and that’s been tragically demonstrated today,” Kathy D’Arcy said.
“Without full decriminalisation there will always be some kind of ‘chill factor’ getting in the way of healthcare practitioners caring for pregnant people as is now their duty.
“We will keep fighting for everyone brutally sent home from hospital to ‘await the course of nature’ and for everyone who is still being denied the care they need.”
Ms D’Arcy said the response of Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who described the case as a matter for doctors, was not good enough.
“I wish to condemn the Tánaiste’s dismissive words in the Dáil today,” she said.
“This is not the first time that he has implied that speaking out about our reproductive rights is ‘inappropriate,’ and I would like to remind him that we have been heard and cannot now be silenced.”
Mr Barry agreed the Government could not refuse to get involved.
“This is more than an individual case, this is about citizens having their rights vindicated,” he said.
“The Department of Health needs to intervene here to explain the law of the land to the hospital and to ensure that she can have her needs provided for in this state, which is what people voted for last May.”