Masters of Ireland biggest maternity hospitals call for ‘Yes’ vote on Friday
The Masters of Ireland’s two main maternity hospitals, Holles Street and The Rotunda, this week joined together with Ireland’s Health Minister to call for a ‘Yes’ in this Friday’s referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the country’s constitution.
Addressing the reality that unregulated abortions are regularly procured by Irish women and girls Dr Rhona Mahony of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street and Professor Fergal Malone of the Rotunda Hospital said they had “major concerns” about the use of abortion pills.
Professor Malone said that about two to three per cent of the 1,500 women who procure abortion pills online every year will run into medical complications. Women are, for the most part, probably taking the correct medication but because it is unsupervised people who “run into trouble” will feel isolated and unsupported. Professor Malone said a number of women who have had complications as a result of ectopic pregnancies had delayed presenting to the Rotunda Hospital because they went ahead themselves and procured their own terminations.
Dr Mahony said the Eighth Amendment is not preventing terminations of pregnancies but just ensuring they’re unregulated and happening in “a dangerous way”. She said women in Ireland procuring unregulated terminations are being excluded from the healthcare system.
Professor Mahony appealed to women in such situations to seek help from maternity hospitals: “Please come and seek help if you are not well, we are not policemen.”
Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said he had previously sought advice about lowering the criminal sanction for a termination from 14 years but was told by the Attorney General that because the Eighth Amendment gives equal rights to the mother and to the unborn the 14 year sentence could not be adjusted: “That’s quite frightening.” He hoped a ‘Yes’ vote on Friday would “decriminalise women”.
— RepealEight (@repealeight) 5 March 2017
Dr Mahony expressed contempt at what she called the misogynistic arguments used to oppose Ireland’s 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act including claims that women all over Ireland would pretend to be suicidal to get terminations and “the floodgates would open”. It didn’t happen, she said. If women express suicidal intent then they need to “be listened to and believed, it’s terribly important that we don’t undermine that”, she said.
Health Minister Mr Harris said talk of floodgates was “disgusting now and disgusting then”. Ireland had come a long way since then in de-stigmatising mental illness but that when women’s bodies were discussed “we go back to stigmatising women’s health”, he said.
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