The abortion debate
Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (Opinion Analysis, September 4th) claims that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion. According to the most senior medical professionals dealing with pregnancy, he is wrong. As the then chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Prof John Bonner, told an Oireachtas Committee, “It would never cross an obstetrician’s mind that intervening in a case of pre-eclampsia, cancer of the cervix or ectopic pregnancy is abortion. They are not abortion as far as the professional is concerned, these are medical treatments that are essential to save the life of the mother.”
Niall Behan (September 6th) claims that women with life-threatening conditions are travelling to the UK to avail of abortions. He offers no verifiable evidence of this claim and – again – he is contradicted by the evidence of the institute, which also told the Oireachtas committee that their members “could preserve mother’s lives and health without abortion”.
The claim made by Jacky Jones (a former HSE employee) went further again, however (HEALTHplus, September 4th).
Seeking to disprove the fact that Ireland is the safest place in the world for a mother to have a baby, Dr Jones claimed that a recent ESRI report showed that Ireland was “the 15th safest place to give birth among 22 European countries”. But the ESRI report deals only with perinatal mortality (the death of children just before or after birth) and not with maternal mortality. Such an error is astonishing.
Spin and scaremongering has no place in this debate. Abortion advocates need to get their facts straight. – Yours, etc,