Medical tests could raise ‘mental anguish’ risk

A woman seeking an abortion in Ireland, especially those at risk of suicide, should not be subjected to up to four examinations by doctors as this could “unduly increase her risk of mental anguish”, according to leading human rights experts.

In a set of recommendations to James Reilly, the health minister, it warned that repeated examinations, after an initial request for a termination and on review, could be “intrusive” and could infringe upon the woman’s right to respect for her private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Irish Human Rights Commission is also suggesting that if an abortion decision is sent to review and the termination is once again rejected, the woman should “receive written reasons for the decision in the event she wishes to seek judicial review of the decision”.

Any such judicial review should also be expedited before the High Court and anonymity and legal aid should be provided to all women.

The commission also criticised the lack of “clear procedures” under which people with intellectual disabilities will be given advice and information around abortion requests. It also said that the special needs of ethnic minorities and non-English speaking women are not dealt with sufficiently.

“Mental capacity legislation, properly formulated to support decision-making of persons with disabilities, should be introduced in tandem with this bill,” said a spokesman.

The commission also state that where a health professional refuses to carry out in or assist a procedure on the grounds of conscientious objection, and where that refusal leads to the death or significant harm to the woman, the health professional and their institution should be guilty of a criminal offence.


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