The woman at the centre of an abortion controversy earlier this year has launched High Court proceedings aimed at stopping a HSE inquiry into the care provided to her by state agencies.
The woman, who can only be referred to as Ms Y, is an asylum seeker who suffers from a medical condition and is described as being “extremely vulnerable”.
She arrived in Ireland earlier this year. She had been raped in her home country, and in April, she discovered she was pregnant.
She sought an abortion on the grounds of feeling suicidal but, despite seeing a number of agencies, the pregnancy was well advanced by the time her case was assessed by a three-doctor panel.
She had a caesarean section against her initial wishes, and the child is now in state care. A HSE inquiry was set up to examine the response of the State and other agencies in the case.
Yesterday at the High Court, Ms Y’s lawyers said the manner in which the HSE inquiry has been conducted, which she has been unable to participate in due to her ill health, has breached her rights to fair procedures and constitutional justice.
In proceedings against the HSE, Ms Y wants an order halting the inquiry, which was commenced in August.
She also seeks an order quashing a draft report concerning her case which counsel said was “leaked to media” last September.
Richard Kean, counsel for the woman, said the draft order was put together in the absence of his client being interviewed. Due to her vulnerable condition she was unable to be interviewed, he said. Her version of events should have been ascertained, he said, before any report was compiled.
Mr Kean said the leak of the draft report, the contents of which were featured in both print and broadcast media, had “compounded her illness,” and had breached Ms Y rights including her right to privacy.
Mr Kean said Ms Y’s solicitor, Caoimhe Haughey, asked the HSE for the source of the leak, as the contents of the draft report was only known to a small number of people.
Counsel said Ms Y was also unhappy that the four-person inquiry team appointed by the HSE to conduct the inquiry was composed of individuals who were or had been in the past employees of the HSE. This gave rise to an apprehension of “bias”, he said.
Mr Kean said Ms Y and her legal representative are unhappy the inquiry team did not include either a consultant obstetrician and a consultant psychiatrist, it was submitted.
Permission to bring the case was granted on an ex parte basis by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday.
The judge also granted a temporary stay on the inquiry from proceeding until the matter returns before the court in late January.
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