QUESTION NO: 1159
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 16/04/2013
* To ask the Minister for Health with regard to the Draft National Consent Policy in relation to refusal of treatment in pregnancy, if the guideline which says that a woman's refusal of treatment which may impact on the life of the foetus must require a legal opinion to be sought and if this is not a serious breach of the woman's human rights regarding her own decision making with regard to giving birth.
Clare Daly T.D.
An adult with capacity can refuse all forms of treatment (including life-sustaining treatment) even where such a refusal may be considered unwise and/or conflict with prevailing medical advice and could lead to his/her death. The case [In the matter of a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 2)  2 IR 79] established that an adult with capacity has the right to refuse medical treatment to facilitate a natural death. A number of subsequent court cases have reinforced the rulings from the Ward of Court case, in particular JM v The Board of Management of St Vincent’s Hospital 1 IR 321 and Fitzpatrick v FK (No.2)  IEHC 104. However, this situation becomes more complex in the case of pregnancy given that the rights of both parties (i.e. the mother and unborn) need to be considered. As the HSE's Consent Policy remains in draft form it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it at this stage. I expect the policy to be finalised shortly