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Woman in home birth case faced with €10,000 legal bill

The High Court decided not to award legal costs against Aja Teehan but today she said her family is trying to raise the funds to pay their own significant legal bill.

Aja Teehan, right, with her husband Charles Brand, left, outside the High Court last month.
Aja Teehan, right, with her husband Charles Brand, left, outside the High Court last month.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated 22:54

A HIGH COURT judge has decided not to award legal costs against a pregnant woman who had her application to have a home birth with a midwife contracted to the HSE denied, though her own bill has reached over €10,700.

Aja Teehan had applied to the HSE to give birth at home, with a self-employed community midwife for her second child but because she had a caesarean section on her previous pregnancy, she was deemed ineligible. Last month the high court ruled against  the woman but the court decided today not to award costs against her.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Teehan said her family is pleased they “don’t have to try to bear the financial burden that would have been in place” and that the judge recognised  her case was of public importance.

However the woman and her family still face substantial costs of €10,798 that were incurred as a result of taking the case and Teehan said she has had to set up a fund, which she plans to publicise through her blog.

I understood when I took the case that there would be repercussions but I considered it to be my personal responsibility to other women to fight for their rights. Some people think this was just about home birth and my homebirth but for me it was about the blanket issues and the failure of the State to recognise a woman’s right to self-determination in pregnancy.

AIMS Ireland welcomed the judge’s decision but echoed Teehan’s comments that public attention on the case focused on home birth rather than the “real issue of women’s rights to make responsible, informed choices in pregnancy and childbirth”.

“Best practice clearly states that patients should be assessed on an individual basis on their current health, current medical conditions, as well as their previous history,” they said. “The HSE are not providing women with individual assessment, a fundamental principle in evidence based care.”

Originally published 13:52

Read: Choice Ireland ‘disappointed’ at High Court ruling on home births>

Read: Despite refusal, home birth case a “worthwhile fight”>

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