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Peadar Tóibín tells Dáil that family at centre of Holles Street termination case believe it was an "illegal abortion"

Tóibín was speaking to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar under Dáil privilege today.

The National Maternity Hospital.
The National Maternity Hospital.
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

AONTÚ TD PEADAR Tóibín has stated in the Dáil that the couple at the centre of an abortion carried out at the National Maternity Hospital after a misdiagnosis have alleged that it was an “illegal abortion”.

Tóibín was speaking to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar under Dáil privilege in relation to a case which concerns a couple who, earlier this year, were told their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality.

It is understood that an abortion was then carried out at over 15 weeks.

It was thought the baby had Trisomy18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, but a series of genetic tests later found that was not the case.

Speaking today, Tóibín said that he had spoken with the legal representative of the family.

“This is a desperately tragic case. The family were falsely told that the child had a fatal foetal abnormality. The couple claim that their child would be with them today, were it not for the actions of the hospital,” he said. 

“They state that it was an illegal abortion and that the medical practitioner who signed off on the abortion never examined or met the mother her in advance of the abortion.

If that is the case, it is contrary to the law brought in by the Government and it is illegal.  

‘Ignored by the government’

Tóibín said that the family felt that their calls “had been ignored by the government”.

“The family state that their calls for an independent investigation have been ignored by the Government and that they have had no real input into the terms of reference of the internal review which the Government is planning,” he said.

Varadkar stated last month that an independent review was to be carried out into the case. The Taoiseach said in May that “steps are being taken for an independent review to be undertaken”. 

Tóbín also stated that the family were shocked “by allegations that the medical professionals signing off on the abortions have a commercial interest in the companies that produced the fatally insufficient test”.

“This week, the bereaved family were shocked to hear  that the State Claims Agency will indemnify the private company that carried out the fatally insufficient tests,” he said. 

“They are furious with the Taoiseach for stating in the Dáil that this is a confidential issue. 

They believe he is seeking to sweep this illegal abortion under the carpet. Will the Government change the law, institute guidelines and carry out a fully independent investigation? 

Speaking in reply, Varadkar said it was “an individual case and a private matter”.

“I am not party to all of the information from the family affected or… from the hospital’s side,” he said.

“I do not wish to get involved in commenting on an individual case, even one that is very sad, such as this one, particularly when there may be legal proceedings under way.

However, I understand that the Minister, Deputy Harris, wants and expects an external inquiry into the facts of the case to be carried out.

In a statement in response to Tóibín’s clams, a spokesperson for the National Maternity Hospital stated:

“The National Maternity Hospital, despite what was alleged by Peadar Toibin in the Dail today, is actively engaged in commissioning an external review of this sensitive case.”

The spokesperson said that the family had been informed that the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had been requested to perform the external review, but it was not in a position to do so.

“Since then significant progress has been made with RCOG in respect of membership of the external review and the terms of reference and we hope to be in a position to finalise these shortly,” the spokesperson said.

“It was not the hospital’s intention to make any comment at this stage but we felt it necessary to respond to matters stated under parliamentary privilege which the Deputy suggests is an account given to him by a legal representative of the family. 

It is not the intention of the hospital to comment further pending the outcome of the review.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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