Forum in Dublin on maternal health


AN INTERNATIONAL symposium on maternal healthcare in Dublin at the weekend has concluded that abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of a mother.

Eamon O’Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway and a conference organiser, said its outcome would provide “clarity and confirmation” to doctors and legislators dealing with these issues.

The symposium was organised by the Committee for Excellence in Maternal Healthcare, chaired by Prof O’Dwyer. Other members of the committee include Dr John Monaghan, Dr John Greene and palliative care nurse specialist Sinéad Dennehy.

While many of the organisers have been involved in anti-abortion events in the past, a spokesman for the group, Dr Eoghan de Faoite, told The Irish Times the event was not linked in any way to the Pro-Life Campaign or any other organisation.

“All organisers were involved in their professional capacity and were not here to represent any pro-life position,” he said.

About 140 medical professionals were at the event, including experts in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and molecular biology. They presented new research on issues surrounding maternal healthcare, with a focus on high-risk pregnancies, cancer in pregnancy, foetal anomalies, mental health and maternal mortality.

Prof O’Dwyer and a panel of speakers also formally agreed a “Dublin declaration” on maternal healthcare. It stated: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”

In a statement, Prof O’Dwyer also said no treatment should ever be withheld from a woman if she needed it to save her life, even if that treatment resulted in the loss of life of her unborn child.