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.

2 Responses to Aja Teehan vs HSE and Minister for Health

  1. Daniela Franciscus

    Dear Aja,
    Bravo for women like you. You are my hero!

    I commend you (and your husband) for challenging the “institutions” and “ignorance” and what we as women are perfectly capable of doing and have a divine right to do. It is so absurd and I am so sick of hearing women being denied their right to chose for their own bodies what they know best.

    Over 3 years ago my husband and I were inspired by Ricki Lake’s the Business of Being Born. (http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/) – if you have not seen this, I recommend that you and/or anyone else interested in a homebirth check it out. It is very empowering especially if you want to do a homebirth. I suggest the people/institutions who are denying your right to a homebirth, take a look at it as well. They might learn something.

    I also know of women in the US who had homebirths after having their 1st child via C-section and had no problem.

    What you are doing is an inspiration to all women. I can only imagine what an amazing lecturer you must be. You are the kind of teacher I would like to have had who teaches their students to think on their own two feet and challenge the status quo. As a mother, you are teaching your children how to be proactive and take charge of their own life because a time will come when we can all no longer be coddled by the system. Good for you!

    [To the highest leadership among women it is given to hold steadily in one hand the sacred vessels that hold the ancient sanctities of life, and in the other a flaming torch to light the way for oncoming generations. - Anna Garlin Spencer]

    You have my support in this challenge and you will overcome. I look forward to meeting you in the future and will be there to support you on 31st of July.


  2. Best of luck and I hope with all my heart that you’ll be successful. I have had one Active Birth Unit and two home births, all in South Africa, which was, at least fifteen years ago when I first became a mother, much more progressive in its provision for women’s choices than Ireland is (we moved here in 2005). You have a right to choose, you also have a right to assess and accept the risks or lack of them which YOU prefer. The only issue should be: are you properly informed of the benefits and drawbacks of the choices open to you? The answer is clearly: “Yes”, therefore no further discussion should be necessary.

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