Thursday, 29 March 2012

Questions (238, 239)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

241 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health in view of the March 2012 decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in relation to the execution of the judgement in the case of A, B and C versus Ireland, which noted that, given the current status of execution of the judgement, the question is raised of how whilst waiting form measures to execute the judgement to be adopted, the situation of women who find themselves in a similar position to the third applicant is addressed and which expressed concern regarding the situation of such women: the interim measures that are in place to ensure that women in circumstances similar to those experienced by Applicant C have access to the services to which they are entitled under the Irish constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17435/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

If a case similar to Ms C were to arise, it would be the responsibility of her doctor to determine whether there is a real and substantial risk to her life, as distinct from her health, and if such risk can only be avoided by terminating the pregnancy, i.e. the X case criteria. A termination can lawfully occur if these criteria are met. If the patient does not agree with her doctor's assessment, she is free to seek a second or subsequent medical opinion under Medical Council Guidelines, or could apply to the High Court for orders directing the necessary treatment to be provided.

If a doctor refuses to give necessary life-saving treatment, the applicant could in the first instance seek a second opinion for immediate management of her concerns and as follow up bring a complaint against that doctor to the Medical Council.

The law of tort also exists to vindicate the rights of any person who is given negligent or substandard medical advice. I would also point out that the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 would apply and be of relevance. First, in general terms, the legislation imposes obligations on organs of the State to perform their functions in a manner compatible with the State's obligations under the Convention. Secondly, it requires that judicial notice shall be taken of, inter alia, any judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). While the Government understands that the scenarios described above were not deemed satisfactory or appropriate by the ECtHR, they do provide an interim process until the Expert Group on the A,B and C v Ireland judgment of the ECtHR issues its recommendations.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

242 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will intervene immediately to secure appropriate care for this patient in the County Meath or surrounding area. [17455/12]

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As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.