Leading maternity expert says 'Repeal' debate must address replacement for 8th Amendment

Dr Keelin O’Donoghue says we must also discuss the lack of ultrasound screening for foetal abnormalities

Leading maternity expert says 'Repeal' debate must address replacement for 8th Amendment

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One of Ireland’s leading maternity experts says that we should not be discussing a repeal of the 8th Amendment without talking about what is going to replace it.

Dr Keelin O’Donoghue - who is the lead clinician for obstetric ultrasound and foetal medicine at Cork University Maternity Hospital - said we also must discuss the lack of ultrasound screening for foetal abnormalities.

She says the debate has lacked any acknowledgment that there are no national guidelines on the minimum standards for obstetric scanning.

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on Newstalk's Sunday Show, Dr O'Donoghue says these issues have been largely absent from the debate.

“There’s quite a degree of geographical variation in current practice in Ireland and that’s partly because there is no national guidelines on the minimum standards for obstetric scanning," she explained.

"So ultrasound screening for foetal abnormality is recognised internationally as an integral part of routine antenatal care, but it has never been written down as such in healthcare policy in Ireland."

On the subject of any potential changes to Irish abortion laws, she argues: “I don’t think we should be discussing this without talking about what’s going to replace it - and I don't really see a huge amount of that in the current debate.

"I don’t see an acknowledgement that we’re not diagnosing foetal abnormality and that we have no policy on prenatal screening or prenatal diagnosis in this country. I don’t see any discussion on what role early diagnosis has [and what] it means to have an abnormality diagnosed in late pregnancy and then what the choices are.

"I don’t see a recognition of the fact that we have no such services to provide termination of pregnancy in this country and certainly not in any of our maternity hospitals," she argued.

You can listen back to the full interview with Dr O'Donoghue below below: