Girl seeking abortion detained under Mental Health Act

Abortions Rights Campaign say that detention of girl is “disgraceful”

Written by Conor McCreesh


At the end of last year, a pregnant girl who asked for an abortion was detained in a psychiatric unit after her psychiatrist said that an abortion was 'not the solution for all the child's problems at this stage'. The young person, who was said to have had 'very strong views' about having a termination, was deemed by the psychatrist to be at risk of suicide as a result of the pregnancy and was held under the Mental Health Act.

Both the child and her mother believed they were being transferred to Dublin so the child could access an abortion but instead, the child was detained in a psychiatric unit. Days after being commited to hospital, a second psychiatrist gave the opinion that the child did not have a mental illness and could not be detained under the Mental Health Act. She was then discharged. 

Pro-choice campaigners have said that they believe the child was forced to continue the pregnancy 'because of [the doctor's] own personal beliefs'. The case is one of 22 revealed in a report published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.  

Linda Kavanagh, spokeswoman for the Abortion Rights Campaign, stated: “This country cannot continue to treat women, girls, and pregnant people like this. This case shows a law that is supposed to help pregnant people access the care they need is instead being weaponised against them. Women in Ireland deserve abortion access, we deserve maternity and mental health services that include abortion access. This case proves yet again that restrictions based abortion services will never work in Ireland. We urgently need free, safe and legal abortion access so that abortion seekers can make the decisions that are right for them, at the time that is right for them, without fear of detention or imprisonment.”

Abortion in Ireland

Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland. According to the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, introduced by referendum in 1983, "the State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother". This, in effect, is a constitutional ban on abortion. 

However, according to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, made law in 2013, there are certain circumstances were abortion should be allowed. These circumstances include when their is a risk to the life of the mother, including when the mother is at risk of suicide. 

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