Some voices from the Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill 2012: Second Stage debate 18/19 April 2012 November 15, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Reading back over the transcript of the debate it was notable how the following trope was evident. Mostly correct in itself in the abstract – though as it happens I’ve direct experience of how far adrift it can be in the actuality, and one quotation below is flat out wrong – but tellingly evading the central point (you’ll find a detailed and comprehensive post on this particular aspect of the discussion here from Wendy Lyon at Feminist Ire).
Deputy Regina Doherty: ￼ ￼ Meanwhile, Ireland remains the safest place in the world for women to give birth, with UN figures showing Ireland as a world leader in protecting pregnant women. The latest UN study on maternal mortality, published in 2010, shows that from 172 countries for which estimates were given, Ireland remains a world leader in safety for pregnant women. Time and again, international statistics show that Ireland has the lowest number of maternal deaths in the world. On the other hand, increasing evidence suggests there are serious mental health risks associated with abortion. A Finnish study in the European Journal of Public Health recently showed that women who had abortions were six times more likely to commit suicide compared with women who had their babies.
Deputy Áine Collins: ￼ ￼ We are lucky in so many ways. In Ireland we have one of the best records in the world in maternity care, which is so important. The Government is committed to ensuring no woman’s life will ever be put in danger.
Deputy Tom Barry: ￼ ￼ The Bill addresses the health of the mother, rather than of the child, but it is my understanding — I have spoken to a number of health professionals to seek their advice — that it is very rare for a medical condition to present that would leave no choice but to terminate or endanger the pregnancy to save the life of the mother. Where that is the only option, however, I would fully support that decision and, as I understand it, that stance is already taken in Irish medicine. However, there is far too much of a grey area in the Bill, as it stands. The risk of misdiagnosis is a major concern, particularly when we come to psychological and psychiatric conditions. I do not want there to be a situation where we would have abortion on demand under false pretences. As a scientist, I am well aware that there must be tolerance of errors in all that happens in science. However, errors in this instance have fatal consequences.
Deputy Mattie McGrath: ￼ ￼ The life of the mother already takes precedence and rightly so. It is an emotive issue now, as it has always been. I thank the many people who contacted me from throughout the country and I thank those of all views who have contacted all of us. It is important that they contact us and that we respectfully listen to all sides.
The suggestion that pregnant women are denied necessary medical treatment because of the pro-life ethos in this country is simply untrue. In fact, Ireland is a world leader when it comes to the safety of pregnant women. For example, the latest United Nations report on the safety of mothers during pregnancy found that of all 172 countries for which estimates were given, Ireland is out in front. We have a great many problems in our health service, but this is a wonderful achievement.
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): ￼ ￼ We are extremely fortunate in Ireland that we have an exceptional record in respect of maternal mortality. As the Minister indicated, according to the most up-to-date statistics from the World Health Organization, namely, those published in 2008, Ireland was second in the world in the context of its low maternal mortality rate. This would seem to indicate that pregnant women in this country receive a very high standard of care.
Deputy Tony McLoughlin: ￼ ￼ I oppose the Bill as set out by Deputy Clare Daly as I believe the fundamentals, even its Title, are flawed. The life of the mother already takes precedence in medicine, as, of course, it should. In Ireland, thankfully, we have one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.