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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Abortion never required to save mother’s life

Abortion never required to save mother’s life, Irish government told in hearings

by Hilary White

Wed Jan 09, 2013

DUBLIN, January 9, 2013 ( – A group of medical experts has told the government of Ireland that saving a mother’s life never requires the direct and intentional killing of her unborn child. Speaking to the Oireachtas (parliamentary) Committee hearings yesterday morning, the group also told TDs that suicide in pregnancy was “extremely rare” and that to legislate for abortion in such circumstances would not help any Irish women.

Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr. Sam Coulter Smyth, Dr. Mary McCarthy, and Dr. Rhona O’Mahoney responded to probing questions from Senator Dr. John Crowne, a leading oncologist. Asked whether they knew of any instances of “needless maternal deaths” from the current ban on abortions, all three insisted that they were aware of no such instances. Further, they said they had never been prevented from providing life-saving medical treatment by Ireland’s pro-life laws.

The government has opened public hearings on the proposal to legislate to create a loophole in the law that would allow abortion in cases where the pregnant mother threatens suicide. The government said it will present a bill next month that will allow abortion “in limited circumstances.”

Pro-life leaders have promised to punish coalition lead party Fine Gael for the turn-around, saying that the party had specifically promised in the last election campaign that they would “never” legislate to legalise abortion.

The move comes largely at the instigation of the pro-abortion Labour Party coalition partners and international abortion campaigners, in response to the 2010 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the ABC case. The ECHR ruled that due to the Irish Supreme Court ruling in the X case, which abortion activists had launched to attempt to overturn the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn, the Irish government must “clarify” the law. The Court noted, however, that Ireland was not required to legalize abortion.

In yesterday’s hearings, asked whether the doctors knew of cases which required the killing of the unborn child, Dr. Coulter Smyth replied that in “most” cases there was “no need to kill the fetus”. Dr. Mahoney said that while delivery before viability might be required there was “no intention to kill the fetus.” Dr. Coulter Smyth and Dr. McCarthy also confirmed that not one woman had committed suicide in their hospitals in the 20 years since the X case because they could not obtain an abortion.

Dr. McCarthy added that she had consulted with a group of twelve consultants and said that the group has never known of any woman who had suicidal ideation purely because she was pregnant. It was also clarified that all life-saving treatments were always provided to women with cancer arising in pregnancy.

The testimony coincided closely with a statement issued by a conference of medical experts in September last year that stated categorically that there is never any medical requirement to kill an unborn child to save the life of the mother. This included cases in which the mother was undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer. (...)

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