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'I've been ashamed to be a doctor in this country and look women in the eye and say we can't help'

The Together for Yes campaign says the removal of the Eighth is needed to regulate the use of abortion pills.

“I HAVE BEEN ashamed to be a doctor practicing in this country.”

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in the Coombe Women’s and Infant University Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, Dr Cliona Murphy says the Eighth “is punitive to women”, particularly poorer ones.

My experience in active practice has been that those with means can travel, the have-nots are discriminated by our laws.

The Together for Yes campaign published a position paper this morning stating that the removal of the Eighth Amendment is needed to regulate the use of abortion pills.

Two consultant obstetrician and gynaecologists spoke at the launch.

8436 Yes Campaign_90541957 Dr Cliona Murphy (left) with Ailbhe Smyth (centre) and Dr Aoife Mullally (right) during a press conference for the Repeal the Eighth group Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Dr Aoife Mullally, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in the Midlands Regional Hospital and the Coombe Women’s and Infant University Hospital said:

“When women take abortion pills under medical supervision it is extremely safe and extremely effective but the complications of taking it without supervision include heavy bleeding, retained pregnancy tissue, infection, ongoing pregnancy and the psychological stress of taking medication and undergoing a medical procedure without any medical backup.”

Dr Mullally added that without medical supervision, women tend to take more than they need as they are desperate for it to work and if it doesn’t they are then terrified for the rest of the pregnancy.

She added that women can also delay getting a check up as they fear they will be judged.

They then present with a failed abortion at an advanced stage and they have to spend their entire pregnancies terrified that they baby may be born with awful health complications.

“We know the use of abortion pills is happening every single day and it needs to be regulated and Irish women and girls need to be able to access their doctors.”

Doctor Murphy echoed this stating that travel is not an option for many women. ”We need to acknowledge that abortion is in Ireland.

If you’re not for safe abortion, you’re for unsafe abortion.

“For those with complex medical histories whose health would be impacted by pregnancy, it is not true to say the Eighth doesn’t impact how we practice.

She said that instead of offering women options and being able to discuss the risks of continuing or not – there is a “cumbersome practise under the protection of life during pregnancies act”.

“We need to organise multidisciplinary team meetings between ourselves and other medical physicians and then a decision is made as to whether the woman deserves the right to safe abortion care in her own country.

Whether she does earn this right is depended on this meeting and, in my experience, her voice isn’t heard. We have this meeting, the risks of her life and her health is discussed but her actual voice is not really heard. In no other area of medicine is this acceptable.

“In no other area of medicine do we pass judgement like this and doctors do not want to be judge and jury on patients.”

She said she has found it hard to look women in the eye and say she cannot help.

“Whether abortion is legally restricted or not the evidence shows the likelihood a woman will have an abortion for a crisis pregnancy is about the same. Countries with a more liberal regime have a lower instance of abortion than those with restrictive ones.”

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