Woman refused abortion in Dublin hospital with links to Portlaoise maternity unit

Express Reporter

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Express Reporter

Abortion Dublin Coombe Portlaoise

The Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

A pregnant woman whose baby was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality has been refused a termination at a Dublin maternity hospital which takes referrals from the Portlaoise maternity unit, the Dáil has been told.

The incident involving Dublin's Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital was raised by Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs Ruth Coppinger and Bríd Smith.

The Coombe and the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise are part of a shared maternity services network. Women with complication who present to Portlaoise are referred to the Coombe.

Ms Coppinger said in a heated Dáil debate that there are problems with the new abortion legislation because the woman was told she must wait four weeks in order to see if there is a spontaneous miscarriage.

"I’ve been contacted by a woman who has a fatal foetal abnormality that has been certified by two consultants and now it appears the board of the Coombe Hospital is refusing her constitutional right that we all voted for to have an abortion at a time she chooses,” she said.

In December 2018 the Master of The Coombe Hospital Dr Sharon Sheehan told RTE that the hospital would not be ready to provide abortion services at the start of January.

Dr Sheehan said she would advise Minister for Health Simon Harris to delay the introduction of services until February or March.

Abortion services were introduced into nine Irish hospitals in the first week of January but the service is not yet available in Portlaoise hospital or any hospital in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.

Dr Sharon Sheehan, She said the Coombe Hospital is "fully committed" to providing termination of pregnancy services.

However, she added that to ensure the provision of "safe, high-quality, sensitive and compassionate care for women", it is essential to have the finalised legislation in place, an agreed model of care nationally and national clinical guidelines.

Dr Sheehan said that at the moment, none of those things have happened.

She added: "There has been extensive work, and that is continuing to proceed at a pace, but they are not ready and we now have only 20 days before this service is to be introduced.

"In my opinion, the country is not ready, and therefore the Coombe is not in a position to deliver these services from the 1st of January."

The HSE declined to comment when asked if and when abortion services would be introduced at Portlaoise hospital.

The following maternity units and hospitals will be providing abortion care: National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin, Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, University Hospital Galway, Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Cork University Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Waterford.

None of these hospitals are in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG).

The DMHG includes Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, St James’ Hospital Dublin, St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, The Adelaide & Meath Hospital (Tallaght Hospital) Dublin, Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore, Naas General Hospital and The Coombe Women & Infant University Hospital Dublin.