Information released under a parliamentary question has revealed that the State is being sued in two more cases regarding abortion after a misdiagnosis, as happened in the Baby Christopher case in the National Maternity Hospital in 2019 which shocked the country.
The 2018 legislation allows abortion to take place without term limits if the baby is believed to have a life-limiting condition that means the child might not live for more than 28 days after birth.
Within three months of the legislation being passed, an unborn baby was misdiagnosed with Trisomy 18 in the NMH. His parents were told that there was “no hope” and an abortion was carried out when their baby boy was 16 weeks gestation.
After the abortion, the final results of the test came back and the baby, who his parents had named Christopher, was found to be perfectly healthy, but by then it was too late. The abortion has been described as a “catastrophic error” – but the parents are still fighting for a satisfactory inquiry into what happened.
Now, new information released to Peadar Tóibín TD shows that the State is currently being sued in two ongoing cases of a wrongful diagnosis in relation to the abortion act.
The Aontú leader asked the Minister for Health to disclose “the number of persons who are taking or have taken cases against the State alleging that their unborn baby was wrongfully diagnosed and subsequently aborted; the number of claims notified to the State Claims Agency; and the number of cases ongoing and the number of cases which have been settled.”
In response, the State Claims Agency confirmed that there were “two ongoing claims from persons alleging that their unborn baby was wrongfully diagnosed with a condition sufficient to bring them within the scope of the Health Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018.”
Megan Ní Scealláin of the Life Institute said that the revelation was “deeply shocking” and showed the extent to which abortion was being seen as the first and only option under the system rushed into place after the abortion referendum.
“It is incredible that it is only through these questions that we know two babies aborted after a misdiagnosis are now the subject of claims against the State. A veil of secrecy is being drawn over the horrendous mistakes and outcomes of abortion in Ireland,” she said.
Vicky Wall of Every Life Counts, which is a support network for families where an unborn baby has been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, has urged a full review of how the culture in maternity hospitals may be pushing parents towards abortion.
“This is an absolute bombshell. It is almost unbelievable that we are hearing of two more babies that have been aborted in this way,” she said. “Where is the inquiry, and the media headlines? Why isn’t the HSE and the Minister being held to account.”
“It appears that the Abortion Review, which is meant to be an examination of the operation of the legislation, has ignored these devastating, catastrophic outcomes, and the media is happy to mostly ignore these life-ending ‘mistakes'” she said.
“During the abortion referendum, along with other families who had been through negative experiences after receiving a poor diagnosis, we repeatedly asked Minister Simon Harris for a meeting to raise our very genuine fears that families would be pressured or pushed into abortion if safeguards were not put in place. We were ignored, and parents who raised their experience of being pressured towards abortion even when the 8th was in place were often treated snidely or talked down,” she said.
“Barely three months into the new regime, our worst fears were realised. Baby Christopher’s family say they never raised the issue of abortion, and that they were advised to have an abortion. We were told, and voters were assured, that this would never happen. Now it keeps happening”.
“Now we know that are at least two more case where a family has lost their baby to abortion in the same way,” she said.
“It’s just heartbreaking – and its like babies who have a severe disability don’t matter, even when the diagnosis is wrong, they are just seen as collateral damage,” she said.
Peadar Tóibín also asked the Minister to disclose the number of adverse incidents reported to the State Claims Agency – and was told that 133 claims have been made against the State for adverse incidents in relation to the Abortion Act.
The Aontú leader has said that the three-year review into Ireland’s abortion laws must examine the high number of those adverse incidents.
“We hear talk that the review into Ireland’s abortion law is going to recommend that the three day wait period should be reduced or abandoned. This is a big mistake which would lead to a dramatic increase in the rate of abortion in Ireland. Some 23,000 human beings have had their lives ended in the first three years since the law was changed. This is a breach of human rights – we’ve also seen particularly harrowing stories about babies who are born alive after failed abortions who are left to die, and we’ve also seen the government vote against legislation seeking to ensure that unborn babies are granted pain relief prior to late term abortion”.
Deputy Tóibín continued: “Aontú is a party of human rights – we believe that everyone, everywhere, regardless of age, size, ability, etc should be entitled to the full protection of the law. The three day wait period is saving lives, we know that 3,951 women who turned up for the first appointment did not book a second appointment ie. the abortion did not go ahead. Allowing for the fact that some of these women may have miscarried, it is still fair to assume that many changed their mind during the three day period”.
“Rather than pandering to the demands of extreme pro-abortion groups, the review should seek to speak to the women who changed their minds and ask their opinion on the three day wait period. There must also be a proper examination into the number of adverse incidents reported to the State Claims Agency and we need transparency and detail on the nature of these incidents. It is extremely sad to hear that there are two more misdiagnosis cases in motion, and that the harrowing experience of the couple in Holles Street was not a ‘once off’. We need to have a serious discussion on this topic, leaving ideology to one side, to get to the bottom of this”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.
The information provided to Deputy Tóibín showed a steadily trend of claims made after adverse incidents when undergoing abortion. The annual reporting on the abortion regime in Ireland does not require the Minister to reveal any information regarding adverse incidents – and no central reporting system is in place to record adverse outcomes after taking the abortion pill.
|Incident Reported Year||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023
(To end Feb)
|Number of Incidents||2||27||36||33||28||7||133|