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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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'Sad and depressed' but not 'actively suicidal' - the HSE's verdict on Ms Y

RTÉ Prime Time has revealed that the HSE believes there was “an overall lack of coordination” in the handling of the case.

A pro-choice march in Dublin.
A pro-choice march in Dublin.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE HSE REPORT into Ms Y, a suicidal woman who was denied an abortion after she was raped, has been made public by RTÉ Prime Time.

During tonight’s programme it emerged that scores from the psychological tests conducted by doctors indicated Ms Y was “sad and depressed” but not “actively suicidal”.

The writers of the report state they were “aware that a view has been expressed that Ms Y had been refused a termination of pregnancy when her condition warranted such an intervention under the provisions of Section 9 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (2013); on the basis that Ms Y was suicidal”.

The draft report continues:

… although Ms Y was undoubtedly extremely distressed and traumatised by the crisis pregnancy which had resulted from the rape she had experienced in her country of origin … none of the documentation reviewed; nor the interviews conducted with the staff from the various agencies that Ms Y came into contact (with) … identified that Ms Y had presented as being at a risk of real and substantial risk of loss of life by way of suicide …”

The case in question involves a young woman who said she was raped before arriving in Ireland. She discovered she was eight weeks pregnant while undergoing a medical exam here and sought an abortion.

A panel determined that she was suicidal, meaning a termination would be lawful. However, the obstetrician in the case would not perform the termination because by this point the woman was 25 weeks pregnant. Ms Y gave birth by way of a Caesarean section.

The incident led to calls for a referendum on removing the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

‘Strong death wish’

The HSE report also states:

There was a consistent view expressed that … Ms Y did exhibit signs of extreme emotional distress caused by the crisis pregnancy … and that the most appropriate referral was for crises pregnancy counselling … this occurred.

Prime Time also noted that evidence to the report team showed “efforts had been made to assist Ms Y to secure the necessary documents to travel abroad for a termination of pregnancy as she wished but that this process was not completed”.

On 17 June, a doctor specialising in treating the victims of torture informed the report team that “Ms Y had responded affirmatively when asked if she had thoughts of ending her life or feeling trapped” but he/she added that “evidence of psychological distress is a common feature in many of the clients that he/she assesses as part of the Medico-Legal Review process”.

The doctor was sufficiently concerned to ring the reception centre about psychological supports for Ms Y – and wrote to a GP attending the centre.

The letter said:

Ms Y had a strong death wish … that she was upset about the rape and that she was clearly alarmed about the prospect of a baby. It is stated Ms Y had thoughts of self-harm but she had no current intentions …”

Lack of coordination

The report concludes that in the period up to Ms Y’s admission to hospital, “agencies and services were constrained by existing legislation as it pertains to women in Ms Y’s situation”.

It also highlights “an overall lack of coordination … due to the number of agencies involved in the delivery of services … and to the fact that there are currently no agreed protocols in place for the sharing of information”.

Additional reporting: Rónán Duffy

Related: Here’s what the inquiry into the ‘Ms Y’ abortion case will look at

Read: “Let’s not repeat the mistake of 1983″… Varadkar calls for calm in abortion debate

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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