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Ruth Coppinger tells Dáil: woman who had to travel to UK for abortion was 'treated like a leper'

The Dáil has heard of a case of a young mother despite was refused a termination despite being given a tragic diagnosis in recent weeks.

The mother, named as 'Mary', with her partner had to make the difficult decision to go to England to have an abortion, as a result.

Speaking at Leaders' Questions, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said despite the passage of the referendum last May and the subsequent passage of abortion legislation through the Oireachtas, Irish women are still being denied the care they are legally entitled to.

Ms Coppinger said she had been contacted by a number of women including 'Mary' who said she was denied a termination for medical reasons because she was over 12 weeks.

“There are worrying signs that women are still being forced abroad. Three have had to go to England to obtain an abortion for medical reasons."

Ms Coppinger said the woman presented at Portiuncula Hospital, Co Galway for a scan where complications were discovered.

The fluid was discovered and the mother was told the baby if delivered may only live an hour, Ms Coppinger told TDs.

TDs heard that because she was over 12 weeks, doctors said they could do nothing for her.

Mary was handed the name of three hospitals in the UK and said she was “treated like a leper”.

She contacted the HSE who referred to Galway University Hospital but was again told an abortion was not possible.

Herself and her husband had to go to England and expressed her deep frustration at the refusal she suffered at the hands of Irish hospitals.

She asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar why the implementation of the law is having a “chilling effect” in Irish hospitals in tragic cases.

Mr Varadkar said abortion is a private matter and that anyone seeking it should not be subject to any sort of intimidation of any sort.

He said the legislation has been passed and more than 270 GPs have signed up nationally to provide the abortion services along with 10 maternity hospital units.

Mr Varadkar said the Oireachtas decided that disability would not be grounds for an abortion but a fatal foetal abnormality would be.

Earlier, Mr Varadkar came under sustained attack from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independents over the cost escalations at the National Children's Hospital.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin highlighted the lead story in yesterday's Irish Examiner which referenced a confidential report which the HSE prepared having been asked to do so by the Department of Health.

The minutes of the joint construction and finance subcommittee of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board on 30 August are particularly revealing, he said, because they show significant unease and concern about escalating costs and also reveal significant efforts to keeps the news under wraps, including approximately 25 members signing confidentiality clauses.

That meeting took place three days after the Minister for Health was told of a potential overspend of €391 million.

“One wonders whether this overall secrecy fed into the misleading of the Dáil in respect of the answer Deputy Cowen got to his parliamentary question which, as we now know, was not correct,” he asked.

In tetchy exchanges, Mr Varadkar accused Mr Martin and the Opposition of “spinning yarns” when it came to the costs.

He said it was probably the case the project costs were initially “underestimated” as opposed to spiralling out of control.