A young woman has been refused an abortion under Ireland’s new laws and forced to deliver her baby in hospital.
The case is the first known test of the new abortion laws according to a report in the Sunday Independent.
The paper says the young woman believed her life was in danger, not on health grounds, when she asked for the abortion. There is also some suggestion, not confirmed, that she was raped.
The non-national told health board officials of her fear of a serious threat to her safety and well-being as a result of her pregnancy.
She sought an abortion earlier in the summer under Section 9 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013 as she claimed to be suicidal.
The report says the case was assessed by a panel of three experts - a consultant obstetrician and two psychiatrists - as set out under legislation passed last year.
The paper says the two psychiatrists determined that her life was at risk due to her suicidal thoughts but the consultant obstetrician said the baby could be delivered as it was far enough into the pregnancy.
A week seeking the abortion, the woman was informed that it had been refused. She then went on a hunger and thirst strike as concerns for her well-being and that of her baby were heightened.
The paper reports that Health Service Executive (HSE) went to the High Court in Dublin to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself.
She eventually consented to the birth and the baby was delivered by Caesarean section.
Sources have confirmed to the Sunday Independent that the baby is still in hospital and will be taken into the care of the HSE.
The paper also says that according to two sources familiar with the case, there is a suggestion that the young woman may have become pregnant as a result of a rape, although this has not been confirmed.
The Human Rights in Ireland group, an organization run by academics and lawyers, told the paper that it is important to note the Draft Guidelines for doctors contemplated a situation like this.
The group said: “Abortion is an exceptional procedure and requires intensive regulation. Premature Caesarean is simply medical treatment, even if it has its origins in a request for an abortion.
“None of the things that happened to this woman after she was refused a termination are governed by the legislation. They are in a separate ‘fallout’ space, regulated by ‘best practice’, which may be creative and sustained by human rights, or not.”
Labour Party deputy Joanna Tuffy told the Sunday Independent that she hoped the case reassured people that there were checks and balances and a safety net in place in the legislation.
But Ireland’s Pro-Life campaign said in a statement that the case highlighted the ‘horror and deep seated flaws’ in the Government’s legislation.
The statement said: “We now have the situation where doctors are placed in the situation of making decisions knowing there is not a shred of evidence to back any of them up.
“To induce a pregnancy at such an early stage inevitably puts the baby at risk of serious harm, such as brain damage, blindness or even death.”