A pregnant teenager who wanted an abortion was instead placed in a psychiatric clinic in 2016 in Ireland, according to the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
A psychiatrist first evaluated the girl and found her to be “depressed” and “suicidal” before sending her to Dublin, according to the group. The teenager and her mother, under the mistaken assumption that they were traveling to the capital city to receive an abortion, made their way to Dublin. However, once there, the girl was placed in a mental health facility for days.
Turns out, the referring psychiatrist argued that abortion was “not the solution for all the child's problems at this stage” and invoked the Mental Health Act — a piece of regulation that allows doctors to admit patients into mental health institutions without their permission.
While she was in psychiatric care, the girl was appointed a court guardian who fought for her release. As a result, a second psychiatrist examined the girl and found that although she appeared “depressed… there was no evidence of a psychological disorder ... and she could not be detained under the Mental Health Act.”
The psychiatrist also said the young girl had “very strong views” on why she wanted her fetus aborted and she was released several days later after a district judge concluded she “no longer had a mental health disorder.”
Ireland’s Abortion Rights Campaign expressed its concerns on Monday stating, a “law that is supposed to help pregnant people access the care they need is instead being weaponized against them.”
Spokeswoman Linda Kavanagh wrote, “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.”
Carol Coulter, director of the Child Care Law Reporting Project, told CNN, "As a human being and in a personal capacity, I would be very concerned if the only response to young women who sought abortion and who were extremely distressed was to detain them."
If you get pregnant in Ireland,— Simon Jeacle (@sjeacle) June 12, 2017
you must be mad
Ireland has the most restrictive laws when it comes to abortion in Europe. The Irish constitution’s eighth amendment places the life of a fetus on an equal footing with the life of the mother. The 1983 amendment consequently denies women the right to have an abortion even in case of incest, rape or ill health. Only if the mother’s life is in immediate danger, is abortion considered under the 2014 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.