Aja Teehan

Aja Teehan vs HSE and Minister for Health


I have a launched a High Court challenge against the HSE and the Department of Health seeking judicial review of their refusal to grant me a home birth.

As the case progresses I will post updates to this blog.

I have started this process because I believe in a person’s right to self-determination.  On principle, I believe that expectant mothers can and should make informed decisions regarding their maternity care; that it is their decision that should be the final arbiter, not anyone else’s – including medical staff.  In my case, I want to deliver my child at home, but the point of the case is to fully support any woman’s decision to birth how and when she decides; be that at home, in an obstetric unit or a midwifery-led unit.

I have brought this case because of the HSE’s refusal to allow me to have a home birth with the assistance of a midwife. HSE policy along with changes in the law mean that it is no longer possible for any expectant mother to have a home birth unless they fit within a rigid criteria; I cannot access one publicly, or privately. When the HSE refused my application for home birth, they did not assess me as an individual mother and imposed a blanket policy. I have right to autonomy and family rights, which are guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights and our Constitution. I am seeking to vindicate my rights.

Of course, medical evidence and care is absolutely critical during this time; I have been very careful to avail of excellent medical advice during this period, and I have every intention of continuing to do so.  However, ultimately, I claim and take responsibility for the decisions made regarding me, my body, my baby, my birth and my family.  I have personal and family rights, and I intend to exercise them.

After my first child was born by caesarean section in an obstetric unit, my husband and I decided that we wanted to avail of a home-birth for our second child.  We examined many sources of information to assist us in coming to this conclusion; peer-reviewed articles in medical journals, publicly available statistical reports such as those generated by the ESRI, and web-sites belonging to organisations involved in birth e.g. AIMS Ireland (aimsireland.com) and the Home Birth Association (homebirth.ie).

We considered the safety of VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean), and examined the risks associated with it, as well as how those risks could be best managed.  It is our considered opinion that the home setting offers us the best chance of successfully delivering our baby in private, in a respectful environment, and in safety.

If you want to support me and my family in this review process, we would very much appreciate it if you used this site to send emails affirming your support to the Minister for Health, to some of the main decisions makers on the Steering Committee in the HSE, to all the female TDs, and to some others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Category: General

3 Responses to Aja Teehan vs HSE and Minister for Health

  1. Eimear Connery

    Hi Aja,

    Just heard all about your High Court Case on the radio! Fair play to you, you always were a great woman. The very best of luck with it all. I’ll definalety be following the blog from now on.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy too! I hope everything is going well for you and that, whatever the result of the High Court case, you have a lovely, calm birth and a gorgeous little baby at the end of it all.

    The very best of luck and well done again.
    Best wishes,
    Eimear x

  2. Belen

    Dear Aja, you’re a brave woman for raising awareness around this, im sure by now you may have heard many stories and id like to share with you mine,it is important that women voice their experiences and that they get to share them
    I had a lovely homebirth just 3months ago
    Hovewer At 39weeks there was an attempt to withdraw my homebirth on the basis of my age, see one of the causes for withdrawal contrmplated in the memorandum is women above 40, regardless of their health just purely on the basis of their age!
    luckily for me I was abe to have my homebirth as planed but I went under lots of stress until the situation was solved
    Aja I wish you and all you family lots of strength in the next days, you’re bringing up something essential on behalf of all of us, our birth, our choice

  3. Helena Simon

    dear Aja and Charles, I heard your interview in the radio today and was very impressed about how clear and defined you are. I am a midwife and worked long years in Germany inside and outside the hospital, I live now in Clare and don´t work as a midwife due to little children at home. I agree wholeheartedly with every position you explained, from the protocols inside the hospital system, which lead to high c-section rates, due to fear and very little “one to one” care, even if anyone involved does the best they can, to the position and difficulties of homebirths. In Germany the midwifery_care changed per definition in the 1985 in the now confirmed law that midwifes have to attend the birth and MD´s come in when there is a complication, which eases the issues of constant care for many situations and changed the culture of decission-making and -discussion before and in labor very much. Therefore I think what you are doing is ground-braking and could lead to a review of many things for all women in Ireland.
    BUT—— watch your limits for yourself in your family and your unborn so you are not carrying for others where it gets too heavy for you. But if it is possible continue the good work, it is for all of us (let people, who understand your angle, know how to help). Good investigation for options require more inside and education but are essential for all of us and for our wellbeing. I wish for you that you find a good team around you that will help you have the most peaceful birth possible. That is the aim (not the form but the essence)
    Be very well and all the best wishes for you and all your loved ones Helena

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