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Six children in state care taken abroad for abortions since 1992

Children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald says the mental health needs of each girl were considered before travel.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

SIX CHILDREN in the care of the State were brought overseas to facilitate abortions since the constitution was changed in 1992.

The figures were confirmed by the children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald, in response to written Dáil questions from Fine Gael backbencher Billy Timmins who yesterday said he would vote against the government’s planned abortion bill.

Referendums held following the Supreme Court ruling provided a constitutional right for a woman to travel to another country if she wished to avail of its laws on termination, and to make it free to obtain information about the services lawfully available there.

In her written response to Timmins’ question, first reported in this morning’s Irish Times, Fitzgerald said the Health Service Executive had acted within Irish legislation on each occasion that a child was assisted in travelling abroad.

It had also acted “in the best interests of the children involved”, and in each case a psychiatrist was involved in assessing the mental health needs of the child.

In four of the six cases, a court hearing had been involved.

Details of the cases were not released by Fitzgerald, on the grounds of confidentiality, though it is known that there was at least one case where the High Court was asked to rule on whether a child could be allowed to travel to Britain for an abortion.

In its ruling in 2007, the court found that ‘Miss D’ could not be prevented from travelling, even though she was a ward of the state.

In her case, her foetus was suffering from anencephaly, a disorder which usually limits life outside the womb to hours or days.

Read: Another Fine Gael TD publicly rejects abortion bill

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Gavan Reilly

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