‘Unspeakable tragedy’ of misdiagnosis abortion must lead to change, activists say

‘Unspeakable tragedy’ of misdiagnosis abortion must lead to change, activists say National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street

The Pro-life Campaign (PLC) and Every Life Counts spoke out after liability was admitted by all parties involved in the “dreadful case” of a baby aborted after he was wrongly diagnosed with a life-limiting foetal abnormality.

Merrion Fetal Health Clinic and the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, admitted liability in the High Court yesterday (June 22) in the case of the baby – Christopher – who was aborted at 15 weeks in the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin in 2019.

Speaking for the PLC, Ms Eilís Mulroy said the “unspeakable tragedy” raises serious questions as to how “many other babies have lost their lives under Ireland’s new abortion law as a result of parents being given a misdiagnosis”.

She said the Minister for Health has a “duty” to comment on the case, but questioned what assurances he can give to “women and parents that the case… was an isolated case”.

Parents coming forward with “equally horrifying” stories about misdiagnoses in the past were “ignored” by politicians and large sections of the media “out of fear”, Ms Mulroy continued, “that these testimonies might influence the abortion debate in a way some people didn’t want to see happen”.

“This type of closed thinking… has contributed in no small way to tragedies like the one before the High Court today,” Ms Mulroy concluded.

Dangerous precedent

Meanwhile, a Ms Vicky Wall of Every Life Counts, said the admission of liability is “an important step towards justice” for the family.

However, she added that the case highlights a “dangerous trend” of pushing parents towards abortion.

The charity, which represents families whose baby is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition in the womb, called for changes to the abortion law and medical practices to protect “distraught and vulnerable parents”.

“We need changes to the abortion legislation which will ensure that it is unlawful for doctors to act as it is claimed they did in this case,” Ms Wall said. “The parents say they never raised the issue of abortion but were advised their baby was ‘not viable’ and not to wait for the result of a second test – a test that would have shown their baby was perfectly healthy.

“Doctors should only be offering factual information, not opinion or using outdated terms like ‘fatal foetal abnormalities’,” she said. “This needs to change immediately.”