We're not caring for women in the way we should, says Master of Rotunda Hospital

Speaking at yesterday's (11th October) Joint Committee on Eight Amendment of the Constitution, Dr. Fergal Malone, Master of Rotunda Maternity Hospital warned the committee that Ireland urgently needs to repeal its amendment on abortion, before it caused any further harm.

Speaking at the session on health care issues that might arise as a result of the Citizens' Assembly recommendations, Dr. Malone said,

"We have had a woman die, die, from Ireland who traveled to the United Kingdom for pregnancy termination, on her way back, from a complication of the procedure", said Malone. "So we can't care for these people who make that decision in the way we would want to care for them."

Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, also spoke at the same session to senators and TDs present as she addressed the horrific consequences that have taken place as a direct consequence of the current interpretation of the amendment.

"I will never forget the High Court case that dominated December 2015 when somatic function was maintained in a dead woman, so that her fetus could be incubated, in what was described as a macabre experiment weeks away from fetal viability. But it happened because of a medical legal interpretation of the 8th amendment and it could happen again."

At an earlier session, in which the committee discussed international developments in the provision of health care services, the matter of telemedicines distributed by non-profit web organisation Women on Web, such as mifepristone and misoprostol were analysed by Dr. Abigail Aiken, Assistant Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Texas.

Using the earliest available data for Irish and Northern Irish, Aiken found that requests to Women On Web for both mifepristone and misoprostol between 2010 and 2016 had tripled from 548 to 1748, with the years 2015 and 2016 being lower-bound since other telemedicine services were made available in 2014.

Of 1000 women to use the website between 2010 and 2012, 99% were able to successfully terminate, while 95% were able to terminate without requiring any surgical intervention.

For women travelling to England and Wales from Ireland and Northern Ireland, between 2002 and 2016, numbers had dropped by more than half, from 7913 to 3192.

As a result of being afforded the opportunity to receive the treatment online, Aiken noted that now 92% of abortions took place within the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy.

 

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