A woman in Ireland who is carrying a baby with a fatal foetal abnormality has been refused a termination, the Dáil was told today.
The issue sparked heated debate when raised by TDs Ruth Coppinger and Brid Smith.
The woman, according to Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger, was allegedly denied abortion care by the Coombe Hospital after doctors confirmed her foetus has a fatal foetal abnormality.
Coppinger said that the woman was told to wait four weeks to see if she miscarries. She said the woman is now considering travelling abroad for a termination.
I've just raised the case of a women who was denied a termination for fatal foetal abnormalities despite 2 consultants agreeing. The hospital asking for her to wait 4 weeks, where it's likely she'll miscarry. Woman is considering travel to UK. #repealedthe8th #dubw #legisl8
— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) January 17, 2019
Coppinger TD said she believed this was the first ‘test case’ for Ireland’s new abortion law and it seemed the refusal is a ‘chilling effect’ of criminalisation of abortion in the past.
Deputy Coppinger said: “I’ve been contacted by a woman who has a fatal foetal abnormality that has been certified by two consultants. 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.
“Instead they have told her that she must wait another four weeks to see if there’s a spontaneous miscarriage.”
Ms Coppinger was told by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl that the individual medical matter was not appropriate to be raised in the Dáil chamber. Deputy Brid Smith said that the woman had asked for her case to be discussed.
The case has been condemned by the Abortion Rights Campaign, who criticised it as an ‘abject failure of the legislation and the health service’.
ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said: “Ireland has previously been condemned by the United Nations for failing to care for pregnant people in these exact circumstances. Following the introduction of abortion legislation in Ireland, no one should ever be forced to remain pregnant against their will.”
Ms Kavanagh stated: “No one should be forced to travel to access an abortion. The country voted emphatically last May for abortion care at home. Hospitals now have an obligation to provide medical care, which includes providing abortions in cases such as this.”
She said she was concerned by the lack of accountability in this case, adding: Under the new legislation, abortion is permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormality following certification by two doctors, as is reported in this case. There is no scope within the legislation for hospitals to impose additional waiting periods or barriers to access, or to refuse a legal abortion. We are concerned that there may be other cases where the needs of vulnerable pregnant people are debated by hospital boards and they are wrongfully refused care on a whim.”