Suicidal women struggle to get second opinion when seeking an abortion

Expert teams are not always available when assessment needed

Irish Independent

Eilish O’Regan

Concerns have emerged at senior HSE levels about the failure to always secure a psychiatrist to give a second opinion in cases where a pregnant woman is seeking an abortion on the grounds she is suicidal.

An internal document said in some cases it has meant the two psychiatrists and obstetrician, who are required under law to make an assessment in such cases, cannot be found.

Abortion is allowed in cases of suicide risk under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013, which came into effect in 2014.

The abortion can only be allowed if the doctors agree she is suicidal. If she is turned down, the woman then can apply for a review before another panel.

However, in an internal report authorised by Dr Philip Crowley, HSE national director for quality improvement, the lack of availability of a “second opinion” psychiatrist at the initial assessment means that in some cases the woman’s application is going straight to review. . . [Full text]

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