Save the 8th campaign calls on Dr Peter Boylan to resign
Anti-abortion group launches online petition calling on chairman to step down from role
The Save the 8th campaign has called on Dr Peter Boylan to resign as chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists following comments he made in a magazine interview.
The anti-abortion campaign has launched a petition on its website calling for Dr Boylan, former master of the National Maternity Hospital, to resign over comments he made in the latest issue of Hot Press.
In the interview, Dr Boylan is quoted as saying: “Savita Halappanavar died as a result of the Eighth Amendment. Michelle Harte, who was looked after by Professor Louise Kenny, died as a consequence of the Eighth Amendment. Sheila Hodgers died as a consequence of the Eighth Amendment. We have the Miss P Case.”
Anti-abortion campaigners pointed out that Ms Hodgers died in March 1983, months before the Eighth Amendment was introduced. They also said the death of Miss P, a clinically brain dead woman who was kept on life support as she was pregnant, was not linked to the amendment.
John McGuirk, communications director for the Save the 8th campaign, said the claim that four women had died due to the amendment was false and that more than 3,000 people had signed a petition calling for Dr Boylan to resign over the matter as of Thursday morning.
Asked to respond to the criticism, Dr Boylan described it as a sideshow. He said his point was that three women had died as a result of the amendment, and that the Miss P case was separate.
The Save the 8th campaign launched a position paper on Thursday outlining how the Government’s abortion Bill “introduces abortion for healthy babies at six months”.
It also unveiled its latest round of posters and billboard advertising.
Mr McGuirk denied the campaign was misleading or scaremongering. He said the public felt uninformed in relation to what they are voting on and were angry at the lack of information.
“A yes vote absolutely legalises abortion up to six months or viability. It legalises the abortion of a healthy baby up to six months or viability,” he said.
The General Scheme of a Bill to Regulate the Termination of Pregnancy states that it shall be lawful to carry out a termination of a pregnancy where two medical practitioners certify “in their reasonable opinion formed in good faith” there is risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman.
Mr McGuirk said 97 per cent of all abortions in the UK happen on mental health grounds, but acknowledged the majority of these happen before 12 weeks.
Niamh Uí Bhriain, chairwoman of Save the 8th, said voters are “crying out” for information on the Government’s abortion proposal.
“We’re going to make sure voters know that this is abortion on mental health grounds, the same model as the UK model of abortion right up to six months of a baby’s life. This will result in healthy babies being aborted right up to six months, that’s a very frightening prospect and a huge cultural change in this country,” she added.
Mairéad Hughes, who delivered her son at 24 weeks after she was diagnosed with premature rupture of membranes, said the proposed legislation “goes too far”.
“It’s an extreme proposal and it’s not what Ireland needs or wants,” she said.
“The notion that abortion can help women having mental difficulties or mental concerns hasn’t been proven. It’s not scientific [fact], it’s not medical.
“This proposal of abortion up to six months is extreme and it will be used on mental health grounds.”