Irish fatal foetal cases 'may be refused' in UK hospitals
Obstetrician and repeal campaigner Dr Peter Boylan has warned that UK hospitals may no longer be able to provide services in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
Dr Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the NHS Liverpool Women's Hospital, the most convenient facility used by women for termination after this diagnosis, recently closed its doors for two weeks to patients from the Republic.
It is now curtailing its service and cannot accommodate all couples who self-refer for termination.
This is as a result of its own capacity difficulties.
Dr Boylan fears restrictions on the service will spread to other UK hospitals.
"Women will be denied this care in English hospitals some time in the future. We need to get our own Irish solution," he said.
"As a mature nation we have to take responsibility ourselves."
He was speaking at the launch of the Together For Yes campaign, a coalition of groups in favour of repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Dr Boylan also said it was important to inform voters that doctors will deliver a baby who has reached viability age if a pregnancy must be terminated to save the health or life of the mother.
This already happens under existing legislation that allows for termination to save the life of the mother.
Proposed new legislation would extend this to the health of the mother. He said if the unborn baby has reached 23 weeks gestation a neonatal team would be present at the time of termination.
The earlier the time of gestation the higher the risk of infant death and disability. Doctors would assess each infant who is born this way, he added.
Dr Boylan said he awaits the details of proposals to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
It is expected that GPs and women's clinics, as well as obstetricians, will be involved administering medical abortions which will see a woman given two pills to induce a form of miscarriage. The procedure has a safe record, but can lead to serious bleeding in a small minority of cases.
Dr Boylan pointed out this can happen in a regular miscarriage. He expects that hospitals would be at the ready to provide the necessary treatment to a woman in this case.
Meanwhile, former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness said saying there is no abortion in Ireland is a "fairy-tale" and is "utter hypocrisy".
It's time to end the culture of pretence, she added.