Mental Health Act Must Not Be Used To Deny Access To Medical Care

The Mental Health Act must not be used to deny patients access to medical care, Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson, Pat Buckley, has said.

Deputy Buckley made the comment in response to reports of a young girl who was detained under the Mental Health Act when she reported feeling suicidal due to an unwanted pregnancy.

The girl was detained and her mother, who is supporting her daughter, was misled that she was being provided with a termination when this was not the case.

Deputy Buckley continued: "Patients have rights to access appropriate medical treatment within the confines of best practice and the law. At present the law allows in limited circumstances for a person whose life is at risk due to suicidal impulses due to an unwanted pregnancy to seek a termination.

"This was what was deemed to be constitutional by the X case, reaffirmed in referenda and laid down in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.

"The Irish state has failed to ratify the UN Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities which protects the rights of mental health patients despite signing up to it 10 years ago.

"It has failed to improve existing mental health legislation to meet the international standard also, denying involuntary patients a proper say in their care or a real right to advocacy.

"We have to ensure that mental health legislation is not used to deny medical care sought by an person when appropriate.

"While this case may be more difficult because the patient was a child, it must be noted that their guardian would seem to have been supportive of her decision to seek a termination and was misled that this was going to be provided.

"It must also be remembered that the X Case which, established the right to a termination in these cases, was also based on child who became pregnant."


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