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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Bishop: Caesarean a “better outcome than abortion” but creates risks

It emerged this weekend that a woman had been refused an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

Image: Woman pregnant via Shutterstock

THE  BISHOP OF Elphin, Kevin Doran, has raised questions about a case in which a woman gave birth by caesarean after being refused an abortion.

Eight weeks

It emerged over the weekend that the woman had a caesarean at 25 weeks of pregnancy. It was reported she had been raped and discovered after she arrived in Ireland that she was eight weeks pregnant.

It was reported that the woman appeared before a panel made up of a consultant obstetrician and two psychiatrists. The psychiatrists are believed to have determined that she was a suicide risk, however, the obstetrician said that she was far enough along to deliver the baby and the abortion was refused.

Today’s Irish Times reports that the woman underwent a medical assessment after she arrived in Ireland, where it was discovered she was eight weeks pregnant. It says she first asked for a termination at this point.

The paper says that the woman was advised to go to a GP and went in mid-July, followed by attending a hospital. It says the HSE was not aware of the woman’s situation until mid-July, when she was over 20 weeks pregnant.

“…better outcome than abortion”

Today, the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, raised questions on Newstalk about the fact the woman had a caesarean.

He said that the decision to provide for the baby to be “born alive rather than dead” “is a much better outcome than abortion”.

But he said the church has always taken the view that legislation “certainly doesn’t resolve the concerns”.

“You are creating greater risks for the child by terminating pregnancy at an early stage,” he said.

He also said: “I don’t think that anybody has established the right of a mother to terminate the pregnancy because she feels that she’s at risk of suicide”.

Whatever about the mother herself, who understandably is emotionally distressed in circumstances… those who are [in the] medical profession have an obligation to do what is best for both mother and the child.

The Bishop described the early delivery of the baby as “not without its difficulties” and “simply not a healthy option” given that the normal period of pregnancy is somewhere around 38 – 40 weeks.

He said to terminate the pregnancy at 24 weeks with a caesarean “places the child more seriously at risk”.

The Bishop questioned what assistance the State provided the woman with her psychiatric problems.

He said he has seen “nothing to suggest that there is a good reason why” the pregnancy could not have progressed to full term.

The problem with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is it seeks to intervene in the normal process of pregnancy.
We still have to ask the whole question of what happens to the child in this situation.

Eighth Amendment

He does not support calls for the eighth amendment to be revisited.

The Action for Choice group has called for an immediate referendum to repeal the amendment, following this weekend’s reports.

It said its “worst fears” were confirmed by the situation.

TD Ruth Coppinger said that under the Act, “women are being treated as vessels without basic human rights”.

She said the current process to determine suicidality must be scrapped, and abortion must immediately be made available in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and where there’s a threat to the health of the woman.

She has called on Labour to ensure there is a referendum to get rid of the eighth amendment.

The Irish Independent reports that Labour TD Aodhan O Riordáin believes the Constitutional Convention should be recalled to look at the possibility of a referendum on the issue taking place in the life of this government.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) said that the abortion law is “not fit for purpose”.

Cathleen Doherty of ARC said:

campaigners will be demonstrating to send a clear message to the Government that women in Ireland must be allowed basic human rights, and continuation of pregnancy is a choice to be made by the potential parent and not the State.

Youth Defence has called on the Taoiseach to immediately consider repealing the legislation, describing it as “unworkable and barbaric”.

Read: National Women’s Council calls State refusal of abortion to woman ‘barbaric’>

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