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In 2014 Doctors for Life Ireland issued a letter in response to the recent birth of a baby at 25 weeks gestation under the PLP Act.
In pregnancy, Irish medicine has a long held tradition of treating both patients: the expectant mother and her developing child. The recent case of the young woman who was raped and became pregnant has suffered greatly. However, it is wrong to think that an abortion would solve the problem. Having an abortion does not reverse the pregnancy- it kills the child. The hurt continues. In this case the child was delivered prematurely at 25 weeks, but may die or may have serious illness as a result. It is important to note that there are cases of children who were delivered at even earlier gestations and have grown healthy and strong.
It is understandable to think that terminating the pregnancy, or having an abortion, would help the young woman through lessening her suffering. However, there is abundant evidence that abortion is harmful to the mother’s mental health especially if: there is a history of mental health problems; if she is young, ambivalent or coerced; has children already; has poor supports; or has previously experienced abortion. The suffering of the mother in this case is inestimable. One can only hope that she avails of the excellent help and support available from Ireland’s world-class psychiatric services.
The terms of reference of the HSE enquiry into the medical care of these patients relates to the time line of events. The government and the HSE should realize that each baby is the same baby, the same life, at 25 weeks as it is at 12 weeks and as it is at birth. Due to the inclusion of the suicidal ideation clause, the current legislation is misguided and ineffective in what it is supposed to do, i.e. Protect Life in Pregnancy.
Doctors for Life Ireland. Dr Eileen Reilly, (Chairwoman) Galway. Dr Orla Halpenny (Treasurer), Dublin. Dr Deirdre Gleeson (Secretary) Kildare. Dr Rita O Connor, Shannon, Dr Rory Maguire, Dublin.