Amnesty International and abortion
A chara, – As specialists with significant experience in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, we are shocked at the unwarranted and unfounded allegations made by Amnesty International in relation to obstetrical practice in Ireland.
In Amnesty’s report She is Not a Criminal, serious allegations are made against doctors working in Irish hospitals when it comes to the management of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. These allegations, which are not supported by factual evidence in the report, misrepresent the standard of practice in Ireland when it comes to the management of pregnancy loss.
The claim that women are forced to carry a “dead baby” inside them for months after miscarriage it is at best a gross misrepresentation, and at worst, a callous attempt to discredit and shame Irish obstetricians. The purpose seems to be to provoke a debate on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, something that really has nothing to do with the management of miscarriage.
The standard of practice for the management of miscarriage is the same in Ireland as it is in any other developed nation, regardless of the law on abortion. Once foetal demise is confirmed via an ultrasound scan, there are three options available to the woman; a conservative “watch and wait” approach; medical management, which uses drugs to induce delivery; or surgical management in which the womb is surgically evacuated.
Amnesty’s report seems to suggest that women in Ireland are offered no help at the time of miscarriage and are left with dead foetuses inside of them because of some perceived legal restrictions. This is simply not true.
As soon as a miscarriage has been confirmed, a care plan is formulated between the patient and her doctor, and the best interests of the woman are always prioritised.
Occasionally, and as per national guidelines, a repeat scan will be indicated to confirm that foetal demise has indeed occurred. However, this is consistent with international best practice, and is not a reflection of the law of this country in relation to abortion. Doctors do not delay treatment other than when that is clinically indicated. If individual doctors have done so in the past, then that is a reflection on individual practice and not on standard practice in Ireland.
Amnesty would do well to look at international reports, which place Ireland high on the leader board in obstetrical care, particularly when it comes to our low rates of maternal death and low perinatal mortality.
Many doctors are supportive of Amnesty International but it is not appropriate for an international body concerned with the human rights of all people to make such broad and sweeping statements about the practice of obstetrics in Ireland when our statistics and guidelines on these matters speak for themselves. – Is mise,
Prof JOHN BONNAR,
Obstetrics and Gynaecology,
Trinity College Dublin;
Dr PATRICK CONWAY,
Dr TREVOR HAYES,
St Luke’s General Hospital,
Dr CHRIS KING,
Dr SUBHASH KOHLI,
Former Master of
National Maternity Hospital,
Dr EAMON McGUINNESS,
and St James’s Hospital,
Dr JOHN MONAGHAN,
Consultant Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,
Sir, – Amnesty was once an organisation respected universally for its compassion for the voiceless. It has renounced its founding principles with its militant espousal of the ideology of abortion. – Yours, etc,