Wednesday 28 September 2016

Mahony warns of abortion legal risk

David Kearns

Published 06/09/2016 | 02:30

Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles Street Hospital.
Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles Street Hospital.

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital has criticised the Eighth Amendment for forcing doctors to make medical decisions regarding abortion in a "criminal context".

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Dr Rhona Mahony wants medical decisions on terminations in a "clinical context" to be free of legal considerations.

"For me, the Eighth Amendment causes difficulties in making sound medical decisions… [because] it asks doctors to make really complex medical decisions [involving terminations] in the context of criminal offences," she toldRTE's 'Claire Byrne Live'.

"This is where the Eighth Amendment really gives us difficulty - we've seen its ability to distort medical decisions."

Dr Mahony spoke in detail about the 2014 case where a woman who was brain-dead had her organs maintained in order for her to incubate her foetus.

"Overwhelming medical opinion was that it was futile, as it would be many weeks before the foetus would reach viability.

"I think that when something like that happens in your country, you really do need to examine why that happened and could it happen again," she added.

The Master of Holles Street Hospital also said she had been "disturbed" by reports that a staff member at a Dublin crisis pregnancy clinic told an undercover reporter that women who had abortions suffered increased risk of breast cancer.

"There is absolutely no link between breast cancer and terminations… I think that advice was given with an agenda in mind."

Health Minister Simon Harris has indicated that he will be looking at the regulation of pregnancy counselling services in Ireland following reports of the incident.

A poll on the 'Claire Byrne Live' show found that two-thirds of people would like a referendum on abortion.

When asked "Do you want to see a referendum on abortion?", 66pc said Yes while 22pc answered No.

A further 12pc were undecided.

Irish Independent

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