Monday 16 September 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

Women 'must wait for their babies to come home in a jiffy bag'

Holles Street Master Rhona Mahony called for a Yes vote on Friday. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Holles Street Master Rhona Mahony called for a Yes vote on Friday. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Shona Murray

Women who decide to terminate a pregnancy due to a fatal foetal abnormality "have to wait for their babies to come home in a jiffy bag", according to the Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Rhona Mahony said her patients had felt "abandoned and stigmatised" in such cases.

"We send them to the UK when there's a fatal foetal abnormality, to a different jurisdiction away from family and friends," she said.

"They have to wait for their babies to come home in a jiffy bag" after the termination has taken place.

The Master of Holles Street was joined by Prof Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, who described the difficulties faced by doctors when they considered a termination to save a woman from dying.

"If you have to wait until a woman is showing clear, clear signs that she is dying - that's too late," he said. "You're trying to quantify what degree of complications may arise.

"At what point can there be a high enough risk to the life of a mother that I can go and intervene?

"Is it a 10pc chance that a bad infection will be there; is it a 20pc chance, 40pc chance?"

Both doctors also warned about the dangers of women taking unsupervised, illegal abortion tablets.

Around 1,500 women a year are taking abortion tablets and around 2-3pc will run into medical troubles.

Dr Mahony said: "We've had many more cases where women have been scared to divulge that they've take tablets and have delayed their presentation.

"And I say to all women: we will care for you. Don't delay if you're not well."

She added: "The Eighth Amendment has not prevented abortions; it has merely created a system in which it happens in a dangerous way."

Prof Malone said: "We've had a number of patients [taking abortion tablets] in the Rotunda Hospital who have had an ectopic pregnancy; which is where a pregnancy is in the fallopian tube.

"The fact they've taken tablets without supervision means they won't have known that their pregnancy was in the tube, and they were putting themselves at serious risk."

Prof Malone hit out at the number of retired medics coming out against repealing the Eighth, saying they were too long out of practice to appreciate changes to obstetric care.

"They're not seeing what I'm seeing on a day-to-day basis," he said. "What we're seeing on the ground today are complex pregnancies with a lot of potential for dangers for women."

But the anti-repeal group Love Both said it was "cynical" of the Government and the two masters to use abortion pills as a reason to support repeal.

It called for Google and other platforms to ban the advertisement of abortion pills, and for better use of customs officials' time in intercepting them.

Caroline Simons, spokesperson for Love Both, said the "removal of the rights of the unborn" would "not solve" the dangerous use of abortion pills.

Irish Independent

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