Child care law report shows abortion laws are ‘not fit for purpose’

Child care law report shows abortion laws are 'not fit for purpose'

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) has said reports that a pregnant child was detained under the Mental Health Act after seeking an abortion show that Ireland’s laws are not fit for purpose.

The latest tranche of reports published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project includes the case of a young girl who was judged to be at risk of self harm and suicide because of her pregnancy.

An order detaining the pregnant child under section 25 of the Mental Health Act 2001 was made on the evidence of a consultant psychiatrist who said terminating the pregnancy “was not the solution”.

The order was later discharged by a District Court judge.

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.”

She said the report was evidence that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is “a useless piece of legislation that only serves to further jeopardise the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable”.

Ms Kavanagh added: “The report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project says that the girl and her mother thought she was being transferred to Dublin for an abortion and was instead detained.

“This is a grave breach of trust of a vulnerable young girl and echoes the treatment of Ms Y in 2013 who was also detained and lead to believe on several occasions she was getting the abortion she so desperately needed.

“We also saw similar treatment of Ms X in 1992, another suicidal child in need of an abortion who was prevented from accessing the care she needed by the State. That we are still seeing cases of this kind 25 years later is a disgrace and an indictment of successive Governments’ failure to deal with this issue.”

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