Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion
Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion

Photo of Kate O'ConnellKate O'Connell (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
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Initially, I wish to speak about the operation of termination of pregnancy. We will take a break from the children's hospital for the minute. I have a few issues in this regard.

As the Minister will be aware, recently there were breaches of patients' privacy and knowledge of terminations happening in hospitals. In terms of the alleged breaches of patient privacy, what action has the Minister taken? The reason I am concerned about this, other than for obvious reasons, is it was flagged by both committees, namely, the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution and the subsequent Select Committee on Health on which we dealt with legislation, that some people perceive this to be a separate issue and therefore, confidentiality does not seem to apply to it. This is extremely concerning. The whole point was that we would be able to care for women in a compassionate way in their own country. If people are concerned when they go for a termination of pregnancy, or seek to have one, that their details might be in the public domain, that inevitably will lead to back-street abortions or to women still travelling. Consequently, it defeats the purpose of what we spent two years doing. The Minister might refer to that. We spent a lot of time last year talking about data protection and having systems in place and how even we Deputies had to sort out our houses in terms of data protection. Here, we have, at a basic level, what is to my mind a very serious breach.

What actions can be taken against rogue agencies that have contacted this particular lady? I also am being told that GPs are being contacted randomly by people purporting to have ultrasound machines they can use to date pregnancies. There appears to be a bit of skulduggery going on in the background, all of which is adding up to a difficult and dangerous situation for women. The Minister might comment on that point.

As far as I am aware, the Rotunda has pulled back from 12 weeks to 11 weeks in terms of providing the parameters. We spoke on Committee Stage about somebody being on the cusp of the 12 weeks and how we would manage that. Here we are with a self-imposed 11-week end-period by the Rotunda. Is the Rotunda in breach of the legislation or is it acceptable?