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This was an illegal abortion, says family of misdiagnosed baby

By Susan Gately - 14 June, 2019

Deputy Peadar Tóibín

The heartbroken couple who aborted their baby following a misdiagnosis at 15 weeks of Trisomy 18, a fatal anomaly, has stated through their solicitor that the abortion was illegal.

Yesterday in the Dáil, Aontú Deputy Peadar Tóibín informed the House that he had been speaking to the couple’s solicitor.

“The family are stating that this was an illegal abortion,” he said. “They have stated that the medical practitioner that signed off on the abortion never examined the mother in question nor even met the mother in question in advance of the abortion. If this is the case it is indeed contrary to the law and it is an illegal abortion.

“The family have stated that they have been ignored by the government, they are furious that there will not be an independent investigation, that they have not had an input into the terms of reference of the internal review that you are planning. They are also shocked at the allegation that medical practitioners that sign off on the abortions have a commercial interest in the company that carried out the fatally insufficient tests in the first place.”

The family were also shocked to hear this week that the State Claims Agency will indemnify the private company that carried the “fatally insufficient tests”, said the Deputy, who called on the Taoiseach to “change the law, institute guidelines and carry out a fully independent investigation”.

In reply, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was “an individual case and a private matter” and he would not comment on an individual case, “even one that is very sad, such as this one, particularly when there may be legal proceedings under way”.

Speaking after the Dáil debate, Deputy Tóibín said it was not good enough for the Taoiseach to refuse to deal with the issue. “If the necessary changes are not made this could happen again.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the National Maternity Hospital said it was “actively engaged in commissioning an external review of this sensitive case”. Earlier the UK Royal College of Obstetricians had said it was not in a position to do the review, but since then “significant progress has been made with RCOG in respect of membership of the external review and the terms of reference and we hope to be in a position to finalise these shortly”.

Last week Holles Street said it was conducting a trawl through the past 20 years of cases to see if there were similar cases with conflicting test results. “We are in the process of looking back at CVS [Chorionic villus sampling – a prenatal test used to detect birth defects and genetic diseases] results over the past 20 years and so far have found no case of discordant results between the QFPCR [Quantitative Fluorescence-Polymerase Chain Reaction test used to detect the presence of additional chromosomes] element and the full karyotype in relation to Trisomy 18,” the hospital said.

However Niamh Ui Bhriain from the Life Institute said that in the past if a woman was given a diagnosis of a fatal anomaly and went for an abortion in the UK there would be no record afterwards about whether the diagnosis was correct or not.

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