There have been at least 3 reported cases of unborn children being falsely diagnosed with a life limiting condition or a fatal foetal abnormality in just 6 months - Tóibín
In each case non-invasive screening and scans were used as the preliminary diagnostic tools. In two of these cases further testing demonstrated that there were no abnormalities or life-limiting conditions, resulting in no terminations taking place.
However, in one tragic case at the National Maternity Hospital, further testing, including specific genetic testing, proved that there was no fatal foetal abnormality meaning that the child was fully healthy. The specific genetic tests results were ordered by the hospital but arrived after the termination had taken place. The hospital chose not to wait for the results of these vital tests.
According to Aontú leader Peadar Toibin TD:
“This is a public health crisis. Tests are being carried out by hospitals and private companies with no resident geneticists, genetic input or counselling. Mothers and families are being encouraged to make radical life-changing decisions on the basis of screening tests and scans that are known to have significant margins of error.
"Shockingly a fully healthy baby boy lost his life in March as a result. Since then the grieving parents have called for a full investigation and protective measures to be immediately put in place.
"This is catastrophic in itself for families, but the National Maternity Hospital tragedy is amplified by the fact that even the very meagre requirements of the current legislation are not being implemented either. The medical records of the family at the centre of the National Maternity Hospital case demonstrate irrefutably that the leglislation was breached in that only one obstetrician examined the expecting mother prior to the termination taking place. This means the mother was not properly consented for the procedure under the legislation. Consent means informed consent.
"In answer to a parliamentary question that I received from the Minister for Health on the 15th October, a breach of the legislation is a matter for the Gardai. Yet despite all this information being placed in the hands of the Minister by the family themselves last May, the Minister has taken no action to safeguard the lives and welfare of other expecting mothers and their unborn children.
"If this policy of inaction continues there is no doubt other families will suffer similar heart-breaking disasters in the future.
"That a known risk of unborn children being terminated on the basis of tests with a known significant margin of error is not a matter of the utmost of urgency for the government and other parties is shocking.
"That the hospitals currently providing abortion services do not have resident geneticists and genetic counselling in accordance with the RCPI Guidelines issued in December 2018 and May 2019 is also shocking.
"Last December a high profile members of the obstetric and gynaecological community warned that the implementation of the abortion legislation was premature and rushed due to a lack of resources. I myself warned during the debate at legislation stage, that this margin of error would lead to shocking human tragedies. I asked the Minister for Health, what was a tolerable margin or error when it came to human life. He failed to answer. These warnings have come to pass tragically for these parents."