herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Mum's anger as she loses battle over home birth

COURT BATTLE: Aja Teenan with her husband Charles Brand
COURT BATTLE: Aja Teenan with her husband Charles Brand

A pregnant mum who lost her High Court case challenging the HSE policy on home births says she has absolutely no idea what she is going to do next.

University lecturer Aja Teehan, whose second child is due on October 13, had challenged what she claimed is the HSE's "blanket policy" of refusing to cover home births for women who have previously undergone Caesarean sections.

However High Court Judge Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley rejected her action yesterday.

Ms Teehan previously gave birth to a baby girl in 2007, and was ruled ineligible for a home birth as the HSE does not cover home births where women have had prior Caesarean sections.

Speaking after the case, she said: "I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do. First of all, I'm going to be very cross for a little while. Then we'll have to consider the legal position.

"We might actually end up back in court here within a matter of days. Until that's all sorted out I can't say."

Speaking about whether she would consider further court action, Ms Teehan said: "Of course. We have to consider all avenues.

STRESS

"People talk about the stress and the amount of effort, but I'd quite happily lay down my life for my child, why wouldn't I take on this for it. Of course I would."

However she added that going to the Supreme Court would "double" their costs and she didn't want to risk losing her home.

Ms Teehan was cheered by supporters as she left the High Court and said that she was proud of what she achieved.

The lecturer and her husband Charles Brand were not seeking orders compelling the HSE to provide her with a home birth.

Instead, they claimed that the HSE applied a "blanket policy" without assessing her individual suitability.

However Judge O'Malley said in a 22-page ruling that the Supreme Court had already ruled that there is no statutory obligation on the HSE to provide for a home-birth service, but could provide for home births in the exercise of its discretion if it was appropriate to do so.

She said it was not possible to find the policy adopted by the HSE – which does not cover home births where women have had prior Caesarean sections – unreasonable.

The issue of costs will be decided on September 6.

Lawyers for the HSE had told the court that the executive's policy was based on medical evidence and best practice.

hnews@herald.ie

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