Sunday 20 August 2017

Abortions to save women's lives are carried out at St Vincent's

St Vincent’s Hospital on Merrion Road, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
St Vincent’s Hospital on Merrion Road, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

Eilish O'Regan and Ian Begley

A number of abortions have been carried out to save the lives of pregnant women in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin since new legislation came into force, the Irish Independent has learned.

The terminations were performed under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, a spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed.

The revelation comes as the controversy over the decision to give ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity, when it transfers from Holles Street to the campus of St Vincent's, rumbled on yesterday.

Former master Peter Boylan remained defiant and insisted he would not resign from the Holles Street board at a meeting today, despite getting a text message from deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and master Dr Rhona Mahony on Sunday asking him to step down.

"I feel a loyalty to the women of Ireland," he said, repeating his concerns that ownership of the hospital by a religious order could lead to some services not being provided to patients.

He called on the Sisters of Charity, who control the St Vincent's Healthcare Group which owns the public and private hospitals as well as the surrounding land at the St Vincent's campus, to give over the maternity hospital site fully to the State in order to resolve the row.

"As long the sisters own the land on which the hospital is built, it creates problems," he added.

Read More: 'Captain' who delivered 6,000 babies is married to sister of current Master

The Sisters of Charity did not respond to the Irish Independent yesterday when asked if they were willing to relinquish ownership of the site.

Holles Street board member Brendan Carr, who is a Labour councillor and Dublin Lord Mayor, yesterday backed Dr Boylan's right to publicly express his views if he believes he is acting in the best interest of the hospital.

He said it was not right to ask him to resign without putting it to the full board.

Sinn Féin councillor Micheál MacDonncha, who is also on the hospital board, said he voted for the deal with St Vincent's to go ahead, "but recent developments, particularly the commentary from the representatives of the Sisters of Charity, have undermined my confidence in that agreement".

Former Holles Street master Declan Keane said he supported the move, but would have preferred to have had a board meeting before any decision was taken to ask Dr Boylan to resign. It is understood that no motion will come before today's meeting of the board to call for Dr Boylan's resignation.

Current Master of Holles Street Dr Mahony last night insisted the board was not trying to silence the biggest critic of the project. She told RTÉ's 'Prime Time': "Not at all. It's simply a matter of corporate governance, and that's for the chairman and the rest of the board. The deal absolutely guarantees operational independence.

"We will continue to give contraception, IVF, to terminate pregnancies if someone is going to die. We will continue to deliver services in accordance with the law."

A meeting of the board of St Vincent's Healthcare Group, which is reviewing its involvement in the plan, takes place tomorrow. In a statement yesterday, the group's chairman, James Menton, reiterated that "any medical procedure which is in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Ireland will be carried out at the new maternity hospital".

Yesterday's Irish Independent reported the former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dr Boylan, had been asked by text message to resign from the board by his deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and the Master of the Rotunda. It was, of course, the Master of Holles Street Rhona Mahony - not the Master of the Rotunda - who asked him to resign. We are happy to clarify this matter.

Irish Independent

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