Sunday May 6th 2007
MAEVE SHEEHAN SUNDAY INDEPENDENT
THE traumatic plight of the pregnant teenager who was prevented by the Health Service Executive from going to England to abort her fatally deformed foetus may have come to an end. The 17-year-old, known as Miss D, attended a District Court yesterday accompanied by her boyfriend and her family. The legal team for the Health Service Executive (HSE) also attended.
The proceedings were held in camera yesterday afternoon, which means they cannot be reported in the media.
In the High Court on Friday, the HSE signalled that it was willing to apply to the District Court to allow the girl to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy. That application under Section 47 of the Child Care Act is likely to have been the subject of yesterday's proceedings. However, the outcome is unlikely to be known until tomorrow, when the High Court resumes deliberations on the D Case.
The HSE had initially sought to prevent the girl from travelling abroad for an abortion, prompting her to take a High Court action. During the hearing, it emerged that Miss D, who is in the care of the health board, learnt on April 23 that her baby suffered from a fatal brain defect and would not survive for more than three days.
She informed her social worker of her intention to terminate her pregnancy. It emerged that the HSE had asked the Garda to stop her
from travelling and had told the passport office that it had not consented to her being issued with a passport.
In an apparent U-turn on Friday, the HSE acknowledged that it may be in the best interests of the girl to travel to England for an abortion if certain conditions were met. Gerard Durkan, counsel for the HSE, said he believed the law dictated that the girl could not travel unless she had the authority or consent of the district court. The HSE also wanted to be sure of the mother's consent and suggested counselling for Miss D.