“To the Irish public,
As former Chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, we have been horrified at some of the statements made by colleagues during this referendum campaign in relation to maternal care in Ireland.
We 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”.
These comments are simply not true and are nothing less than a serious misrepresentation of the Irish maternal health system. We call on them to withdraw these statements.
Each of us has had extensive experience over around 40 years in the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology. In addition, in our privileged position as Chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, we have fought to improve the standards of care for mothers and their newborn babies.
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.
Not one of our colleagues should ever be permitted to use the Eighth Amendment as an excuse for not treating a woman. 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.
On May 25th, Irish people will be asked to vote on whether the right to life of an unborn baby should be withdrawn. If the answer is Yes, 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. That some campaigners have chosen to engage in a campaign to raise unnecessary fears for maternal health in the electorate is deeply regrettable.
Prof John Bonnar MD FRCPI FRCOG FTCD, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Eamon McGuinness MA FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr. Conor Carr MA FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr James Clinch MD FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Michael O’Hare MD FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman Institute of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists”
GPs express serious concerns for over 12 week proposal
A group of doctors, nurses and midwives met in Dublin earlier today to dis-cuss their concerns about the Government’s referendum proposal for abor-tion on abortion.
Over 100 doctors (mainly GPs) attended the meeting.
Commenting after the meeting, Dr. Andrew O’Regan said:
“The Government’s proposal for abortion would enforce the provision of abor-tion services on local GP surgeries even though the Government knows that the proposal they have put forward has nothing to do with healthcare. The proposal would introduce unrestricted abortion in the 1st three months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.
“At our meeting today, over 100 doctors expressed alarm at what the Gov-ernment is proposing. Further concern was expressed at the fact that the first GPs heard about this proposal was on the news as the Minister didn’t con-sult with them at all.”
“As GPs and other healthcare workers, we feel that the public are entitled to know that the Government’s proposal has nothing to do with healthcare, and everything to do with introducing abortion on demand into Ireland.”
For more details contact 087-2390232
The Medical Alliance for the 8th welcomes and endorses the views expressed recently by consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists including Prof. Eamon McGuinness, Dr. Michael O’Hare and Dr. Mary Holohan that the 8th Amendment does not hinder their ability to provide safe maternal care to pregnant women.
We wish to express our grave concern at the misinformation being publicly disseminated by pro-abortion advocates in their attempts to misrepresent the 8th Amendment.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but facts speak for themselves. As pointed out by Dr. Michael O’Hare chairman of the Joint Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists/HSE working group on maternal mortality our excellent maternal mortality figures give the lie to the claim that the 8th Amendment has endangered women’s lives.
Three independent reports into the tragic death of Mrs. Savita Halappanvar found that the cause of her death was overwhelming sepsis which initially went undetected and untreat-ed. Tragically such deaths occur also in other jurisdictions, including those with legalised abortion. To suggest that removing the 8th Amendment will mean that no woman will in the future die of sepsis is a cynical misrepresentation of the facts.
However proposed repeal of the 8th Amendment is not primarily a medical issue. It is about legalising abortion on request, and introducing an abortion regime more liberal than the UK where one in five pregnancies ends in abortion.
For further information, contact Medical Alliance for the 8th at 089 2449440
Why Cork doctor will be voting no to Repeal
Dr Brendan Crowley
18th April, 2018
I AM proud to have worked as a medical doctor in Cork for the past 12 years. During my training to become a GP, I have been fortunate enough to work in many different specialities, including palliative care in Marymount Hospice, and in obstetrics.
I have had the privilege of observing the majesty of life at all stages of human devel-opment from before birth to natural death.
In my practice of medicine, and observing the Medical Council’s Code of Practice, I am guided by two basic principles of care.
The first is to do no intentional harm. The second is to practise medicine which is based on scientific evidence. I am proud to practise medicine in a country which val-ues the equal right to life of a mother and her baby, and which respects the two-patient model of care which underpins our maternity services. Observation of these principles has created the reality that Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world for women to be pregnant and for children to be born.
The Eighth Amendment is the Constitutional expression of this two-patient model. It means that both mother and baby share an equal right to life and are equally deserving of our care.
No doctor or nurse can adhere to these guiding principles and participate in abortion. It is for this reason that I cannot support the upcoming referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
It is important to be truthful about this simple point: abortion is not healthcare. It is never needed as a medical treatment and is not the cure for any disease.
Abortion is the deliberate destruction of a baby in its mother’s womb.
The only guaranteed outcome of an abortion, in medical terms, is that a child’s heart-beat is stopped and its life is ended. This is a fundamental violation of the first princi-ple of care.
By falsely presenting abortion as a treatment or cure, pro-abortion campaigners seek to compel doctors to breach the second principle as well, since there is no evidence-based scientific rationale for this position.
On May 25, we will be asked if we want to repeal the Eighth Amendment and replace it with a regime whereby abortion on demand would be available without restriction for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to birth on vague grounds of the health of the mother or in cases of babies with life limiting conditions.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, says that he expects this service to be provided by GPs. In other words, I will be obliged by law to carry out an abortion, or if I re-fuse, I must refer the woman to another GP who will do it. In essence, if I refuse to end the life of one of my patients — the unborn baby — I will be legally obliged to refer them to another doctor who will end their life.
As a GP, I find this abhorrent. It strikes against the very heart of what the medical profession is about. It is no surprise then that 70% of GPs are opposed to the pro-posals, as shown by a survey published in The Irish Independent.
If GPs refuse to carry out abortions, then our overstretched hospitals will have to per-form them. In one part of our maternity hospitals, doctors will be doing everything in their power to bring life into the world and protect it, while at the same time in anoth-er part of that same hospital, a doctor will be working to stop a baby’s heart and end their lives.
The Eighth Amendment has been accused, most unfairly, of having caused the deaths of pregnant Irish women. Nothing could be further from the truth. For the record, no woman has died as a result of the Eighth Amendment, though this falsehood has been repeated time and again.
Where it is probable that there is a risk to a mother’s life, she is entitled to whatever treatment is necessary to avoid this risk, irrespective of the effect it may have on her unborn baby.
Doctors do not have to wait until she is dying to give her necessary medical care. In the UK and the United States, where abortion is widely available, the rates of mater-nal death are higher than those in Ireland. 1 in 5 of all pregnancies in the UK are aborted. Is that a model of care which we should aspire to here in Ireland?
The Eighth Amendment recognises and protects what the official Irish translation has termed the ‘beo gan breith’, the living human who has not yet been born.
At 21 days each of our hearts began to beat for the first time. By six weeks, our eyes, nose and mouth had formed. At seven weeks we could be seen moving on ultrasound and by 12 weeks, we began to suck our thumb, swallow and yawn.
Each human being, regardless of age, gender, disability or circumstance, has an equal and irreplaceable value and dignity and is recognised and protected by our Constitu-tion. If as a society we decide to pick and choose which human lives are worthy or unworthy of protection in law, we diminish respect for all human life, born and un-born.
Put simply, the Eighth Amendment means that a mother’s life is always protected. It means a doctor’s hands are never tied, and that we can work to achieve the best pos-sible outcome for mother and babies.
That is why I will be voting to retain the Eighth Amendment, and why I will vote No on May 25 (Ironically, International Missing Children’s Day).
Sir, – I have a number of concerns relating to conscientious objection and abortion.
The recently published heads of Bill define termination of pregnancy as “a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of the foetus”.
If the referendum is passed, this is the procedure that will be available on demand for any reason up to 12 weeks and after 12 weeks on vague health grounds.
First, it is of great worry to Irish practitioners that doctors, nurses and midwives cannot avoid participation in abortion in an increasing number of jurisdictions, including Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Bulgaria.
Second, in the UK supreme court, two midwives lost their battle to be treated as “conscientious objectors”, and to be excused from participating in abortions.
The midwives were told that while they could refuse to carry out the procedures themselves, they were obliged to delegate these duties to other staff and to supervise the staff during the abortions.
Many doctors and nurses consider that if their conscience prevents them from intentionally ending the life of the foetus, they should not be required to supervise and organise this same act.
The legislation proposed if the Eighth Amendment is repealed will oblige GPs and other healthcare professionals who conscientiously object to transfer care to another doctor and to inform the patient in writing that they may seek review of the objecting doctor’s decision.
Third, in 2013 a resolution to restrict the right of doctors and nurses to conscientious objection was narrowly defeated in the European Parliament. Some Irish MEPs voted for this. In the recent Dáil debates some politicians argued against a doctor’s right to avoid participation in abortion.
We have seen how one political party expelled a number of members for voting with their consciences in 2013 and how another party suspended one of the youngest female TDs in Dáil Éireann for exercising her conscience in a vote last month.
Fourth, some academic campaigners have been arguing for the removal of conscientious objection across Europe, claiming that it can be used as a “subtle method for limiting access to abortion”.
Finally, under Minister for Health Simon Harris’s plans for abortion, GPs and others will not be entitled to conscientiously object to participating in the intentional destruction (not delivery) of the foetus where there is a risk to the life or health of the patient in an emergency.
No evidence has been produced to show that intentional destruction of the foetus is necessary to avoid risks to the life or health of a pregnant patient.
I would urge GPs and our colleagues from other disciplines who are also in the front line of patient care to inform themselves fully of the implications for the practice of medicine should this referendum be passed. – Is mise,
Dr ANDREW O’REGAN,
and Senior Lecturer),
Tánaiste facilitating opening the door to abortion on demand, says medical group
The Medical Alliance for the 8th has said that it is very sad that the Tánaiste Simon Coveney has taken a position in support of repeal andunrestricted abortion up to 3 months for any reason.
Speaking for the group, Dr. Siobhán Crowley said, “Minister Coveney is supporting a position that would require GPs to provide a walk-in abortion service that has nothing to do with healthcare and that puts doctors in a very difficult position, requiring them to facilitate the ending of a baby’s life even though the role of a doctor is to heal, not harm, to save, not end, the lives of those in their care.
“Creating a climate of fear about the safety of mothers is misleading and does no service to anybody” – Dr Crowley
The Medical Alliance for the 8th held a press briefing in Dublin earlier today to express their concerns about the Government’s referendum proposals to repeal the 8th Amendment. The Alliance is a group consisting of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals who support keeping the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.
Speaking at the event on Kildare Street, Dr Siobhan Crowley, a GP from Co Kerry, said:
“In the event of repeal, the Government proposes to have a GP led system providing walk in unrestricted, abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is the exact opposite of what we as healthcare professionals were trained to do, which is to protect human life not end it.