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Referendum is not about maternal healthcare say Obstetricians

By Susan Gately - 12 May, 2018

Five former chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have called on the Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony to withdraw comments she has made about the medical healthcare of pregnant women.

In a letter to the editor of the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner, the five obstetricians say they are “particularly appalled by the comments of Dr Rhona Mahony in the Together for Yes campaign video where she states ‘In Ireland today, we play medical roulette with women’s lives’, and those of Dr Peter Boylan in the same video where he claims the Eighth Amendment ‘makes it difficult for us to treat women with compassion and give them the proper care that they need’.”

The five former Chairmen of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – Prof John Bonnar, Dr Eamon McGuinness, Dr Conor Carr, Dr James Clinch and  Dr Michael O’Hare – write that these comments “are simply not true. We call on them to withdraw these statements.

“Ireland is a very safe country in which to be pregnant. The Eighth Amendment does not prevent Irish women receiving care of the highest possible standard. This is why our maternal death rate is so low. Recent Maternal Death Enquiry reports confirm that Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to be pregnant.

“Each one of us can stand over the care we have provided in our careers. Four of us who practised in this jurisdiction have carried out necessary surgery which resulted in termination of pregnancy in order to save and protect Irish women. We had no difficulty in so doing, and the Eighth Amendment did not prevent us from performing an ethical and medically indicated procedure.”

If the public vote Yes in the referendum, say the obstetricians, “it is the stated intention of government to introduce legislation to enable ending the life of a perfectly healthy growing baby, in a perfectly healthy pregnant woman. That is a matter of conscience for each voter. What this referendum is not about, and what it has never been about, is maternal healthcare,” they conclude.

Meanwhile, in the centre of Dublin city today, the Stand Up for Life rally will take place at 2.00 pm in Merrion Square.  This will be the final rally before the referendum of 25 May.

Before the rally, a LoveBoth canvass blitz is happening across the capital form 11.00 am to 1.00 pm. Loveboth, the organisers of the rally, are calling on each person coming to the rally to bring along three friends.

According to Niamh Uí Bhriain from Save the 8th, “momentum is building for a No vote in terms of canvassing, reaching out to people, getting the information out there, and the rally will be an important part of that, letting people see that the majority of people don’t want this abortion proposal because it simply goes too far.”

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