Thursday, 24 January 2019

Ceisteanna (191)

Bríd Smith


191. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to review the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 as a matter of urgency in view of the recent case in which a woman was denied a termination at 14 weeks despite presenting with a foetus suffering from a severe abnormality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

It is not appropriate for either me, as Minister for Health, or the Department of Health to comment on any individual case.

As the Deputy is aware, the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 20 December 2018, and services for termination of pregnancy commenced just over three weeks ago, on 1 January 2019.

Section 11 of the Act sets out the law on access to termination of pregnancy in cases where there is a condition present affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus before or within 28 days of birth.  This provision is in line with the report of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which recommended that “the law should not provide for the termination of pregnancy on the ground that the unborn child has a significant foetal abnormality where such abnormality is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.”

The operation of the legislation is entirely a matter for attending clinicians.  Neither the Minister nor the Department of Health has any role in the medical management of cases. Where a patient requires care not available in a particular location, the patient should be transferred to a hospital/service where the necessary care is available.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 makes provision for women in cases where a medical practitioner has not given an opinion or has given an opinion that would not lead to certification for termination of pregnancy to be carried out.  Section 13 of the Act provides that the woman, or a person acting on her behalf, may make an application to the HSE for a review of the relevant decision. Within 3 days of receiving such an application, the HSE must convene a committee of medical practitioners to review the relevant decision.  The committee must complete its review not later than 7 days from the date on which it was established.

Under section 7 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, I am committed to carrying out a review of the operation of the Act not later than three years after it was commenced.