Institute of Obstetricians, Gynaecologists supporting Government's Yes campaign

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is supporting the Government's call for a Yes vote in the abortion referendum…

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is supporting the Government's call for a Yes vote in the abortion referendum.

Prof John Bonnar, chairman of the institute, said legislation to allow abortion on the grounds of a suicide threat "would inevitably result in social abortion in Ireland" - the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a 32-county body and is part of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Prof Bonnar said the amendment would legalise existing obstetrical practice in Ireland and protect the ethical principles for the care of pregnant women.

"In current obstetrical practice, rare complications can arise where therapeutic intervention is required at a stage in pregnancy when there will be little or no prospect for the survival of the baby due to extreme immaturity," Prof Bonnar said.


"We consider that there is a fundamental difference between abortion carried out with the intention of taking the life of the baby, for example, for social reasons, and the unavoidable death of the baby resulting from essential treatment to protect the life of the mother".

This position had been accepted by the Medical Council of Ireland, Prof Bonnar said.

The institute recognised that obstetricians had the care of two patients in pregnancy, Prof Bonnar said.

He said Ireland was one of the safest countries in the world for pregnancy and childbirth because of the high standard of care provided.

"The proposed legislation will not alter current medical practice and women will continue to receive this high standard of care," he said.

In rare cases where a doctor may have to intervene to protect the mother's life, she should be transferred to a hospital with expert care facilities, Prof Bonnar said.

He expressed concern at the "sensational reporting" of statements that women with haemorrhages as a result of miscarriages may not receive medical care.

"Such ill-informed statements serve only to cause needless anxiety amongst women. Women should be reassured that their treatment for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy will not be affected by the legislation and they will receive appropriate care throughout the country."

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also welcomed the setting up of the Government's Crisis Pregnancy Agency.

Prof Bonnar said the institute would "assist in every way to help prevent unwanted pregnancy, reduce the social pressures on women with crisis pregnancies, and provide care for women who have had abortions".

The Minister of State with responsibility for children, Ms Mary Hanafin, welcomed the institute's statement and said it confirmed that the Government's proposal "in no way endangers the lives of women in pregnancy".

The institute's statement "comprehensively rebutted" attempts by Fine Gael and Labour to misrepresent the Government's pro-life proposal, Ms Hanafin said.

She said the institute's comments about sensational statements showed that the Opposition parties were "tactically trying to spread confusion and scare people".

"The statement from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists once again underlines that the proposal is a simple, honest, pro-life measure which will protect the lives of mothers in pregnancy and that it will protect the unborn," Ms Hanafin said.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times