The HSE has confirmed it called off a court action in the case of Miss Y which was aimed at securing court cover for the termination of pregnancy by early delivery of her baby.
In a statement, the HSE said there was a discussion about whether it was necessary to secure the formal consent of a court for the termination of a pregnancy by way of early delivery.
It says when HSE Senior Management became aware of the matter, and having ascertained that a termination of pregnancy was being certified by the relevant clinicians, they directed that no further court proceedings were required and that the certification could be acted upon without further recourse to the courts.
It has denied a report in today’s Sunday Independent that the court action which was called off was about forcibly hydrating Miss Y.
It said: “The issues discussed and the legal action ceased was not related to a court order about hydration.
“The only legal action called off was one designed to secure court cover for the termination/early delivery.
“This case followed the enactment of new legislation and when it came to the attention of the relevant clinicians and others the circumstances were significantly complex and gave rise to particular issues which had to be considered by carefully by those involved, who had a duty to ensure they were acting lawfully.
“The Department of Health had been central to drafting the legislation and as such was well acquainted with the theory of how it might operate and naturally had a keen interest in the matter.
“Those actually involved in the care of Miss Y at that point, and therefore responsible for the operation of the legislation, had to make decisions in real time in what was very complex circumstances.
It also states that it has retained senior counsel “to review the reasonableness, or otherwise, of the legal approach taken in this case and to identify any learnings therefrom.”
In a statement, the Department of Health said: “The Department became aware of the course of action being followed by the HSE legal team at a very late stage.
“The Department was very concerned at the approach the HSE legal team was taking and following discussions between the Department and the HSE leadership, the HSE legal team decided not to pursue its planned approach.”