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“To the Irish public,
As former Chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, we have been horrified at some of the statements made by colleagues during this referendum campaign in relation to maternal care in Ireland.
We are particularly appalled by the comments of Dr. Rhona Mahony in the Together for Yes campaign video where she states “In Ireland today, we play medical roulette with women’s lives”, and those of Dr Peter Boylan in the same video where he claims the Eighth Amendment “makes it difficult for us to treat women with compassion and give them the proper care that they need”.
These comments are simply not true and are nothing less than a serious misrepresentation of the Irish maternal health system. We call on them to withdraw these statements.
Each of us has had extensive experience over around 40 years in the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology. In addition, in our privileged position as Chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, we have fought to improve the standards of care for mothers and their newborn babies.
Ireland is a very safe country in which to be pregnant. The Eighth Amendment does not prevent Irish women receiving care of the highest possible standard. This is why our maternal death rate is so low. Recent Maternal Death Enquiry reports confirm that Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to be pregnant.
Not one of our colleagues should ever be permitted to use the Eighth Amendment as an excuse for not treating a woman. Each one of us can stand over the care we have provided in our careers. Four of us who practiced in this jurisdiction have carried out necessary surgery which resulted in the termination of pregnancy in order to save and protect Irish women. We had no difficulty in so doing, and the Eighth Amendment did not prevent us from performing an ethical and medically indicated procedure.
On May 25th, Irish people will be asked to vote on whether the right to life of an unborn baby should be withdrawn. If the answer is Yes, it is the stated intention of the government to introduce legislation to enable ending the life of a perfectly healthy growing baby, in a perfectly healthy pregnant woman. That is a matter of conscience for each voter.
What this referendum is not about, and what it has never been about, is maternal healthcare. That some campaigners have chosen to engage in a campaign to raise unnecessary fears for maternal health in the electorate is deeply regrettable.
Prof John Bonnar MD FRCPI FRCOG FTCD, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Eamon McGuinness MA FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr. Conor Carr MA FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr James Clinch MD FRCOG, Former Chairman, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Dr Michael O’Hare MD FRCPI FRCOG, Former Chairman Institute of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists”