- Pregnant girl was judged at risk of suicide by doctor and sectioned
- Girl and her mother believed she was being transferred for abortion but she was taken to a mental health unit instead
- Second psychiatrist ruled there was 'no evidence of a psychological disorder'
- Girl failed to qualify for an abortion under Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act
Gloria Steinem. Chelsea Handler. Jemima Kirke. Stevie Nicks. Nicki Minaj. Joan Collins.
Were any of these women deemed mentally ill when they sought an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy? No.
But according to the logic of one Irish doctor, these powerful and inspiring women, who made the decision to undergo an abortion, could have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Ireland famously has a different set of laws pertaining to abortion than the rest of the British Isles. In short, the 8th Amendment prohibits abortion completely with very few exceptions and you can read more about that here.
Today though, The Irish Times has reported the surprising news that a young girl seeking an abortion wasn't just denied a termination of her pregnancy, but she was actually sectioned - committed to a mental health institution - seemingly without consent or even awareness.
According to the Irish newspaper, during this one out of 22 reported court cases by the Child Care Law Report Project, an order was made to detain the girl on the evidence of a psychiatrist who believed she was at risk of self-harm and suicide, as a result of her pregnancy. The same psychiatrist went on record to state that terminating the pregnancy 'was not the solution.'
'This could be managed by treatment and that termination of pregnancy was not the solution for all the child's problems at this stage,' the psychiatrist reportedly revealed.
However, a second psychiatrist examined the patient a few days later and said while the 'young girl' might be depressed, 'there was no evidence of a psychological disorder'.
They added: 'As the young girl did not have a mental illness she could not be detained under the Mental Heath Act. The consultant psychiatrist also reported that the young girl had very strong views as to why she wanted a termination of her pregnancy.'
The court also heard from the young girl's treating adolescent psychiatrist, who said the patient's mental state was difficult to assess on admission, given that she and her mother had initially thought they were being transferred to Dublin for an abortion (which would be performed under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act if she was deemed eligible).
It has been claimed that she only realised she was being admitted to a mental health unit after the fact.
To make matters worse for the young girl, she was later denied an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.
The Act, which came into force on 1 January 2014, states that a pregnant woman or girl who expresses suicidal thoughts and seeks an abortion may undergo a termination in Ireland if three (yes, three) medical practitioners – one obstetrician/gynaecologist and two psychiatrists – jointly and unanimously agree there is a 'real and substantial' risk to the life of the women/girl by suicide, which could only be prevented by a termination.
Seeing as the second psychiatrist in this case ruled that the young girl couldn't be detained under the Mental Health Act, his judgement of sanity also deemed her ineligible for an abortion, despite her protestations about risk of self-harm and suicide.
Ireland's Abortion Rights Campaign said in a statement on Monday that it was 'deeply concerned' that a 'law (the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act) that is supposed to help pregnant people access the care they need is instead being weaponized against them'.
ARC spokeswoman Linda Kavanagh said: 'It's hard not to think that the psychiatrist in this case essentially used the Mental Health Act as a tool to force a child into continuing an unwanted pregnancy because of their own personal beliefs.
'This is a grave breach of trust of a vulnerable young girl,' she added.
With more than 3,000 women with Republic of Ireland addresses visiting England and Wales for abortions last year, according to figures from the UK Department of Health, it is unfathomable how a country which strives to protect and serve its people might actually be endangering and victimising them or even threatening their lives.