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Girl seeking abortion held in psychiatric unit when she thought she was going for termination

A consultant psychiatrist said termination was “not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage”.

Image: Shutterstock/Summer Photographer

Updated at 11am

A YOUNG GIRL who was seeking an abortion was detained in a psychiatric unit under the Mental Health Act at the end of last year.

The case has been published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project which looks at how children are treated in our legal system.

In this case the girl and her mother thought they were being transferred to Dublin for a termination when the girl was admitted.

A consultant psychiatrist, on whose evidence she was detained, said a termination was “not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage.”

The psychiatrist was of the opinion that the child was at risk of self harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy and this could be managed by treatment.

The girl’s guardian ad litem – a person who supports children to have their voices heard in legal proceedings and makes an assessment – employed a second consultant psychiatrist.

The second consultant psychiatrist found she was depressed but that there was no evidence of a psychological disorder.

This psychiatrist concluded that as the young girl did not have a mental illness she could not be detained under the Mental Heath Act. The psychiatrist also reported that the young girl had very strong views as to why she wanted a termination of her pregnancy.

The court heard evidence that “while the young girl remained agitated and angry, she did not suffer from an acute mental health disorder that warranted her detention under the Mental Health Act 2001″.

A District Court judge then discharged the order detaining the young girl on the grounds that the child no longer had a mental health disorder in accordance with section 3 of the Mental Health Act. It’s understood that the child had been detained several days earlier.

There are no details about whether the girl was able to get a termination.

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Speaking about the case Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said,”I’ve heard those reports, they’re certainly worrying and very disturbing.

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Decisions on whether somebody needs to be sectioned are a matter for doctors and patients and a decision on whether somebody needs a termination to protect their life is a matter for doctors, not a matter for for politicians.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ 1 Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall said, “The case does seem to raise issues of concern. It is a very serious thing to lose your liberty like that. We certainly need to hear more about this case.”

Spokesperson for the The Abortion Rights Campaign Linda Kavanagh said, “This country cannot continue to treat women, girls, and pregnant people like this.

This case shows a law that is supposed to help pregnant people access the care they need is instead being weaponised against them.

“We also saw similar treatment of Ms X in 1992, another suicidal child in need of an abortion who was prevented from accessing the care she needed by the State. That we are still seeing cases of this kind 25 years later is a disgrace and an indictment of successive Governments’ failure to deal with this issue.”

Read: Almost 8,000 cases of adult abuse reported to HSE last year>

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