Investigation ordered into abortion at National Maternity Hospital

An external investigation has been ordered at the National Maternity Hospital into the circumstances involving an abortion after a finding of fatal foetal abnormality.

It is understand a termination of pregnancy was carried out after a screening test was performed privately at the hospital.

The findings indicated the baby had a possible diagnosis of trisomy 18, also called Edwards’ syndrome, which is recognised as a fatal foetal abnormality under The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act, which came into force in January.

It is alleged that not all stages of the test results were available before the couple were in a position to make an informed decision.

The results of the final part of the definitive findings of the process had not been returned from the UK when the couple were told of the diagnosis.

The couple went ahead with the termination, but they were shocked to learn the catastrophic news that the test results later were negative for the anomaly.

It is understood the pregnancy was terminated in the second trimester.

The issue has been brought to the attention of the Health Minister, Simon Harris, who has been called on to carry out a statutory investigation.

The external review is to be carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK, who will nominate experts.

A spokesman for Holles St said it does not comment on individual cases.

He said he can confirm that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will conduct a review of a recent case at the hospital.

Edwards’ syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by a third copy of all or part of chromosome 18 and occurs in about one out of every 5,000 births.

Pregnant women can pay to have non-invasive prenatal screening involving a blood test. It analyses cell-free DNA circulating in the pregnant mother’s blood. It involves a number of stages with the final stage involving high level cell culture which looks at chromosomes.

This must be sent to the UK for analysis.

Fatal foetal abnormalities are usually not diagnosed until around the 20th week of the pregnancy when a woman has an anomaly scan. Termination of pregnancy is allowed for under the new abortion law since January with no time limits.

Two of the three main maternity hospitals in Dublin are continuing to only accept women seeking a medical abortion who live in their catchment area nearly five months after the new law began operating.

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