Pregnant women still treated like children
History shows that the State has a poor record when it comes to its care of mothers and babies, says Carol Hunt
It's like a cruel version of Groundhog Day. Once again we are wondering how a young, healthy woman in early pregnancy can die in an Irish maternity hospital. Once again we are sending a husband, who has fled abroad to the comfort of his family, heartfelt condolences and promises of an investigation into the death of his young wife in an Irish maternity hospital. Once again we are sympathising with distraught parents about the death of their babies (in Cavan hospital last week), and promising to find out the truth; to do better; to try to ensure that such tragedies are averted whenever possible. Once again, Irish women have an awful, stomach-churning fear that this is no country for pregnant women.
How are we still here? It's over half a century since the combined forces of the Irish Medical Association (IMA) and the Catholic hierarchy put a stop to women having control over their pregnancies when they prevented Dr Noel Browne's Mother and Child Scheme being introduced.
It was not, as is sometimes represented, a case of Church versus State - most of our elected representatives being firmly on the side of the Church - but rather the refusal of both church and medics to give up their control over women's bodies.