State sued after women had abortions over alleged misdiagnosis of fetal abnormalities

The state is being sued over two cases of alleged misdiagnosis of fatal fetal abnormalities that resulted in abortions, it was confirmed yesterday.

The cases have been filed with the State Claims Agency.

There have also been 133 alleged adverse reactions reported since January 1, 2018 to February 28 this year related to termination of pregnancy.

The figures were provided in a parliamentary response to Aontú TD Piedar Tóibín.

A previous case arising from a misdiagnosis at National Maternity Hospital was settled by the Supreme Court in June 2021.

It comes as a review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 has been completed and is being examined by the Department of Health.

It is expected that recommendations will be made to relax the mandatory waiting period of three days for women undergoing medical abortion.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said in a series of parliamentary responses that a review is also underway to decide whether remote consultation for women seeking a medical abortion from their doctor, introduced during the pandemic, should become permanent.

He said that in April 2020, remote consultation, rather than face-to-face consultation, was introduced in early pregnancy.

“There has been no formal study or analysis of remote consultation in Ireland.

“However, there is positive feedback from healthcare providers and patients and there is strong evidence from published literature in the UK and Europe that distance abortion care is safe and effective.

“In light of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the fourth quarter of 2021, the department has requested that the HSE review the model of care to review its operation and consider whether it should be retained going forward.

“This review has shown that the inclusion of remote consultation as part of the termination of pregnancy service is safe, effective and acceptable to both users and healthcare providers.

“It improves access for many women and tackles geographic and logistical barriers.

“It also alleviates some of the difficulty associated with the mandatory three-day waiting period.

“Availability of remote consultation puts the woman at the center of the process and supports her reproductive autonomy.

“There is increasing evidence that the use of telemedicine in termination of pregnancy has outcomes consistent with face-to-face care and it is now being normalized in many other countries.

“Most providers find a mix of care at a distance and personal care optimal.

“Timely access to care, as close to home or the community as possible, is an important starting point of Sláintecare’s vision.

“The review of the changes to the termination of pregnancy care model adopted during the pandemic is an appropriate and timely initiative. The department continues its consultation with the VGM on final considerations regarding the adoption of the mixed model as the sustainable model of termination of pregnancy care.

“The outcome of the review will be made available once this consultation process has been completed.”