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28 April 2013 Edition

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X Case panel ‘idiotic’ says expert

• Vigil outside Leinster House following the death of Savita Halappanavar

‘This panel can only have been designed by or thought about by people who really do not understand how doctors work’

CLAUSES in the Fine Gael/Labour Government’s proposals on legislation for the X Case could see a pregnant woman who says she is suicidal brought before a six-person panel of psychiatrists and doctors to assess whether there is a “real and substantial risk to her life”.

It has been suggested that two obstetricians and four psychiatrists – including one perinatal psychiatrist – sit on the panel.

Dr Anthony McCarthy, one of just three perinatal psychiatrists in the state, said the proposals were “ridiculous” and “idiotic” adding:

“It can only have been designed by or thought about by people who really do not understand how doctors work.”

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• Perinatal psychiatrist Dr Anthony McCarthy

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Pat Kenny show, Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said:

“In seeking the legislation for X, we are not looking to extend any grounds on which a woman may avail of a legal termination. It is only reasonable to ask that we have on our statute books, written in law, the very limited circumstances in which a woman may avail of a legal termination.”

Noting that the instances of suicide during pregnancy are rare, Mary Lou McDonald said:

“The fact that something is a rarity does not mean we are therefore exonerated from having in place efficient, fair procedures to deal with those very rare occurrences. It is totally unacceptable that we would allow any margin of error or chance that a pregnant women in a hospital would be left without emergency intervention and left to die.”

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