Oireachtas hears of woman's death following travel for termination

The Committee heard that the Eighth Amendment is putting women's lives at risk

Oireachtas hears of woman's death following travel for termination

Picture by: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

The Abortion issue will be up for discussion in the Oireachtas once again today after the Master of the Rotunda Hospital warned that Irish laws are putting women’s lives at risk.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment last night, Dr Fergal Malone revealed that one patient from his hospital has already died after being forced to travel to the UK for a termination.

He said the Eighth Amendment is blocking doctors from offering women proper medical care:

“We are not allowed to care for them to the best of our ability at the moment,” he said.

“We are forced to care for them in a split way with them going to the UK or elsewhere for pregnancy termination, with the stigma, the shame and indeed the physical risk associated with that.

“We have had a woman die – die – from Ireland who travelled to the UK for a pregnancy termination, on her way back from a complication of the procedure.

“We can’t care for these people who make that decision in the way we would want to care for them.

“That is really why I am here today - to suggest that we should be able to care for all of our patients; irrespective of their personal, religious and moral background.”

Unacceptable clinical risk

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahoney said the Eighth Amendment creates unacceptable clinical risks for women.

She warned that the issue should have nothing to do with academics or politics – adding that the restrictions on doctors have very real clinical implications every day in hospitals.

“It is not just the physical consequence, it is also the psychological consequence and the circumstance in which a young person might choose to obtain tablets from a source she doesn’t know and take them with all that risk – and why she is doing that on her own without accessing good medical care,” she said.

“I am referring to children and women of limited means who can’t travel.”

She said doctors need to be free to make clinical decisions without fear of prosecution – adding that HSE guidelines do not provide the necessary protection.

“Some women will get gradually sick and not get very sick; some women will very quickly become very ill indeed,” she said.

“You are facing in to performing a termination of pregnancy in a woman who is unstable, who has major sepsis and who is very ill indeed.

“That can happen in a case where membranes have ruptured at 14 weeks when there is little prospect of foetal viability.”

You can listen to a report on the hearings from Newstalk’s political correspondent Chris Donoghue here: