The National Maternity Hospital

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A chara, – Kathy Sheridan has every confidence that the “ethos of the new National Maternity Hospital will be safe by all accounts”(Opinion & Analysis, December 5th). Is that sufficient guarantee? Not for me, it isn’t.

Dr Peter Boylan’s letter to this paperon August 16th suggests uncertainty around the structure of St Vincent’s, the new company into which the Sisters of Charity has transferred ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group. Who is this new company answerable to – the State or the Catholic Church? If it’s the latter, and it might be, here are the procedures cited by Dr Boylan that are prohibited in Catholic facilities by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Code of Ethical Standards for Healthcare: “any form of artificial contraception, provision of the morning-after pill, any form of assisted fertility treatment, surrogacy, abortion, referral elsewhere for abortion, sterilisation, and gender reassignment surgery”.

Kathy Sheridan’s heart may be in the right place; we do need a national maternity hospital post haste.

But we also need our wits about us when it comes to the Catholic Church. Look at its most recent history in this country alone: mired in the misogyny of the Magdalene laundries and steeped historically in a culture of lies and deceit about clerical sexual abuse. Its involvement via St Vincent’s in the new NMH unavoidably casts doubt on women’s access to a comprehensive productive healthcare system in this State.

To quote your columnist, women deserve better than this after decades of fighting for abortion rights. It is plainly wrong that a €300 million maternity facility should just be handed over to the church. Keep our national maternity hospital public.

I will be joining others to drive that point home this Saturday at the Spire in Dublin at 2pm. – Yours, etc,

THERESE CAHERTY,

Cabra,

Dublin 7.

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