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Pregnant “CHILD” Held In Mental Institution After Asking For Abortion

Pregnant Child Detained in Mental Institution For Asking For An Abortion

To access a life saving abortion in Ireland requires 3 medical professionals (two psychiatrists and one obstetrician) to agree that the woman is at risk of taking her own life. As the recent case of a young girl  shows it only takes one psychiatrist however to get sectioned for wanting an abortion in Ireland.

The girl was legally classed as a child and her identity has understandably been withheld so we know nothing more about her other than that she had an unwanted pregnancy and that when she sought an abortion from her healthcare professionals she was of the understanding that she was being taken to Dublin for the procedure. However unbeknownst to her the consultant psychiatrist had given evidence at a hearing to detain her under the Mental Health Act.

“The consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that while the child was at risk of self harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, this could be managed by treatment and that termination of the pregnancy was not the solution for all of the child’s problems at that stage.”

How frightening it must have been for her to find herself in a mental hospital after travelling to Dublin expecting an abortion. We are told it was “days” later that another hearing was held that resulted in her discharge from the mental hospital. During this time her court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) had employed another consultant psychiatrist to access her and on the basis of their evidence the girl was released from the institution. She spent unnecessary “days” in a mental institution for the “crime” of nothing more than wanting an abortion.

I’ve heard numerous reports of suicidal people trying to access mental health units in Irish hospitals who have been sent away. In future I’ll suggest to those of them who are capable of getting pregnant to say they’re pregnant and want an abortion, as that seems to be a sure way to get sectioned.

This case raises a number of questions. How is it that it only took one psychiatrist to have the girl sectioned? Why was the PLDP act not enacted for this pregnant, suicidal child? How can the public be assured that the personal beliefs of medical professionals won’t interfere with them being able to access the healthcare they need? Did Government Ministers know of the case at the time?

Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said:

“Looking at the report, it’s hard not to think that the psychiatrist in this case essentially used the Mental Health Act as a tool to force a child into continuing an unwanted pregnancy because of their own personal beliefs. It is clear we need some process which ensures medical professionals with such conscientious objections cannot block timely health care in critical cases.”

This is the latest case in a long line of women and girls who have been failed by the state. Ms X was another suicidal child prevented from accessing an abortion in 1992 and Ms Y a teenage rape victim likewise led to believe she would be given an abortion and instead detained against her will. Ireland has a disgraceful history stretching back to the Magdalene Laundries of locking up pregnant women.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is supposed to “protect” women who are at risk of taking their own lives, not used as a tool to lock women who want abortions up.

The Irish Government are allowing this human rights abuse to happen on their watch, leaving a trail of abused and sometimes dead women, girls and children behind them.

Rally to Repeal is on Saturday 17th in Dublin. If you can’t go please contact your local T.Ds and ask them to urgently implement the findings of the Citizens Assembly.

You can sign an UPLIFT petition here:https://action.uplift.ie/campaigns/187

*I’d like to acknowledge the work of the Child Law Project. We would know nothing of this case if it wasn’t for their work. Since 2012 they have been able to report to the public on child care proceedings in the courts, they aim to report on 10% of cases.

Order detaining pregnant girl seeking abortion discharged

An Order detaining a pregnant child under Section 25 of the Mental Health Act 2001 was discharged by a District Court judge on the grounds that the child no longer had a mental health disorder in accordance with section 3 of the Mental Health Act.

The Order detaining the child was made several days earlier on the evidence of a consultant psychiatrist who reported that the child had a mental health disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act. The consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that while the child was at risk of self harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, this could be managed by treatment and that termination of the pregnancy was not the solution for all of the child’s problems at that stage.

The application to discharge the order was made on behalf of the guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child who was appointed by the District Court judge in the course of making the order for detention. The GAL visited the young girl on several occasions and reported to the different judge hearing the discharge application that she did not wish to be detained and was extremely upset.

Another consultant psychiatrist was employed by the GAL to assess the young girl and determine whether or not she had a mental disorder in accordance with the Mental Health Act. That consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that the young girl presented as being depressed, however, there was no evidence of a psychological disorder and she was dealing with her depression well. This consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that the young girl was not suicidal and was not in immediate danger of committing suicide. The consultant psychiatrist concluded that as the young girl did not have a mental illness she could not be detained under the Mental Heath Act. The consultant 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 from the young girl’s treating adolescent psychiatrist who had last seen the young girl the day before the application. He was of the opinion 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. The consultant adolescent psychiatrist said that there was an initial concern of self-harm and that she was very distressed to find out about the pregnancy.

The consultant adolescent psychiatrist said that the young girl’s mental health was difficult to ascertain on admission because both the young girl and her mother thought that they were being transferred to Dublin for a termination and she was very agitated when she found that she was being admitted to a mental health unit. He said that he fully agreed with the report of the consultant psychiatrist employed by the GAL that there was no evidence of a mental health disorder.

The GAL pointed out that there was no conflict regarding the evidence from the two consultant psychiatrists and therefore the Order should be discharged immediately. The GAL outlined that although an application was made in respect of the child’s right to travel, it was not necessary that the court consider the application under that ground, but rather solely on the basis that the child did not have a mental health disorder and therefore could not be detained under the Mental Health Act 2001.

The judge was satisfied on the evidence before her that the young girl did not suffer from a mental health disorder in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2001 and discharged the Order detaining the young girl. The judge said that the District Court judge [who heard the initial application] had applied all of the protective factors of the Child Care Act 1991 by appointing a GAL for the young girl. The judge also noted that a GAL had been appointed for the unborn child in accordance with the case law in the High Court. The judge finally noted that the views of the child were heard through the evidence of the GAL and the report of the GAL. As there was no longer an Order of the District Court detaining the young girl under the Mental Health Act, the judge said that she was entitled to be discharged.

Feminist Ire

To access a life saving abortion in Ireland requires 3 medical professionals (two psychiatrists and one obstetrician) to agree that the woman is at risk of taking her own life. As the recent case of a young girl  shows it only takes one psychiatrist however to get sectioned for wanting an abortion in Ireland.

The girl was legally classed as a child and her identity has understandably been withheld so we know nothing more about her other than that she had an unwanted pregnancy and that when she sought an abortion from her healthcare professionals she was of the understanding that she was being taken to Dublin for the procedure. However unbeknownst to her the consultant psychiatrist had given evidence at a hearing to detain her under the Mental Health Act.

“The consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that while the child was at risk of self harm and suicide…

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