herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

New abortion act leads to 26 terminations

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

A TOTAL of 26 pregnancies were terminated last year under Ireland’s new abortion laws.

Some 23 pregnancies were ended due to the risk to the life of the mother from physical illness, with nine of these done in an emergency. Three pregnancies were ended as the pregnant woman was at risk of suicide.

One request for an abortion due to physical illness was turned down, according to the first annual report on the workings of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act published by Health Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday.

The report gives no information on which hospitals carried out the terminations or what the physical illness involved. It is understood one of the three cases involving risk of suicide concerned the young asylum seeker known as Miss Y whose case made headlines last year.

It was revealed she had contact with a number of agencies over several months before eventually being referred to a panel of doctors. She had a Caesarean section at 25 weeks and her baby is now in care.

Rotunda master Dr Sam Coulter-Smith said the numbers were “broadly” what was expected.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Obstetricians said while training for doctors on the law has taken place in some individual hospitals a specific programme will not be in place until the autumn. Dr John Hillery of the College of Psychiatrists said the training for psychiatrists will also be starting in the autumn.

guidelines

Dr Hillery said it would be helpful to know more about the diagnosis of suicide risk in the three cases. Doctors are relying on broad guidelines drawn up by an expert group on the working of the law.

Minister Varadkar said it will be a matter for the next government to decide if it wants to hold a referendum to widen the Eighth Amendment.

The Pro Life Campaign said that the loss of even one child’s life from abortion is a tragedy.

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