Report: Pregnant girl sectioned after seeking termination

The case is one of 22 published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project

A number of abortion rights campaigners have expressed concerns that a pregnant girl was detained under the Mental Health Act after seeking a termination.

A person can be detained under the act if they are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

The case, which was due before the courts last year, is one of 22 published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.

An order was made to section the girl who was deemed to be at risk of suicide as a result of the pregnancy, however her treating psychologist said that an abortion was not the solution.

A second psychiatrist said that while the girl presented as being depressed there was no evidence of a psychological disorder and she was discharged.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) have said they are “disgusted” and “deeply concerned” by the reports.

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."

Commenting on the reports so far, project director Dr Carol Coulter said: “Some of the cases included in this volume are very lengthy and have taken up to 50 days in court, spread over many months or even years, during which time both parents and children live in uncertainty.

"All the cases demonstrate the fact that certain child protection matters are very complex indeed and require considerable legal and social work resources. There are no easy answers to the problems they raise.

“We hope that the reports and the research we are doing on such cases will contribute to the discussion on how such difficult cases can be dealt with in a timely way and that protects children while ensuring the rights of parents.”

"Deeply distressing"

Commenting on the article, Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, said: “This morning’s report that a young girl was sectioned instead of being provided with an abortion, is a deeply distressing example of the very real and damaging effects of Ireland’s abortion laws.

"That a young girl, at risk of self-harm and suicide as a result of her pregnancy, was denied basic medical care is intolerable. A recent report by ‘Save The Children’ listed Ireland as one of the top countries in the world in which to be a child. This shameful case surely shows it is one of the worst.”