The Eighth Amendment and maternal mortality rates


Sir, – Ireland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates (MMR) in the world. Therefore, it is hard to understand what Dr Rhona Mahony, master of Holles Street hospital, means by saying “. . . we have to wait until a woman is sick enough to qualify (for termination of a pregnancy to save the life of the mother). In some cases that is medical roulette” (“Holles Street master calls for availability of abortion”, September 11th).

Can Dr Mahony explain exactly how removal of the constitutional protection of life (Eighth Amendment) could improve our almost negligible maternal death rate? Could she explain how removal of the qualified constitutional protection for the baby will honestly help save lives?

Many obstetricians practising in Ireland confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect in any way the provision of optimal care to pregnant women by them. Clearly, the practice and clinical decisions of our obstetricians and midwives under pro-life legislation has saved the lives of many women as well as their unborn babies when compared with neighbouring countries like the UK (which has a higher MMR and aborts around 200,000 unborn babies per year). The Eighth Amendment has facilitated one of the lowest MMRs in the world. The practice of clinical medicine will always involve difficult, sometimes life-and- death, decisions.

Dr Rhona Mahony may find it difficult to make these clinical decisions; however, her colleagues should be congratulated and celebrated for working at the coal-face every day in our hospitals and keeping maternal mortality impressively low. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.