We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Rotunda Hospital

Abortion bill hasn't led to more women "claiming suicidality" to get a termination

Fears that this would happen have been proven unfounded.

THE FORMER MASTER of the Rotunda Hospital has said there has been no increase in the number of women seeking an abortion due to a risk of suicide.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith said there was a fear before the introduction of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation that there would be “an increased number of people claiming suicidality, and wishing to have a termination on those grounds”.

“We haven’t seen that happen,” he told The Colette Fitzpatrick Show on Newstalk, saying the floodgates that were expected to open never did.

Coulter-Smith said that nationally between 20 and 30 terminations have taken place under these circumstances, with only a “tiny” number at Rotunda.

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’m not an expert on mental health issues. Mental health is a huge issue in pregnancy. I’ve talked to a number of psychologists about this. There’s no universal agreement that termination of a pregnancy is a treatment for someone who has suicidal ideation. I’m not totally convinced.
PastedImage-55995Dr Sam Coulter-SmithSource: Screenshot via VisionsforIreland/YouTube

He added that the legislation, introduced in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar who died from septicemia after a miscarriage in October 2012 at University Hospital Galway, is welcome:

It's useful and good that [doctors have] a system in place that if they need to terminate a pregnancy in order to save a mother's life, they can do so within the law.

The doctor stepped down at the end of 2015 as the lead obstetrician at the hospital after seven years.


  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Console  1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email - (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: Surrogate mother gives birth to her own granddaughter >

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.