Renowned obstetrician says 'fear and misinformation deployed' by yes side
Writing an opinion piece in the irishtimes.com Doctor McGuiness says :
From where I am seated, it has been very disturbing to see what amounts to a campaign of fear and misinformation deployed to tarnish the image of Irish medicine and make Irish women fearful of the treatment they might receive.
As a consultant obstetrician, and later as chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, I served Irish women and their children under the auspices of the Eighth Amendment.
It should be a matter of some national pride that Ireland, in that time, has been one of the safest places on earth to be a pregnant woman, and one of the safest places in the world to be an unborn child.
In recent times, a sustained campaign has been waged by some people, including several of my colleagues in obstetrics and gynaecology, to suggest that the words at the beginning of this article put women’s lives at risk.
If that were true, I myself would be leading the charge to have them expunged from the Constitution. A constitutional restriction on my ability, or the ability of any of my colleagues, to save the life of a pregnant woman would indeed be intolerable.
Let me therefore be clear: no such restriction exists.
The Eighth Amendment has one medical effect only: it prevents Irish doctors from deliberately, as an elective matter, causing the death of an unborn child.
It awards to the child in the womb the right to have their life protected in Irish hospitals, in Irish GP surgeries, and in Irish operating theatres.That right does not restrict doctors from acting to save the life of a woman where a serious complication arises
In fact, Medical Council guidelines oblige doctors to act, even if that means the baby’s life may be lost. They state that : "During pregnancy, rare complications can arise where a therapeutic intervention is required which may result in there being little or no hope of the baby surviving. In these exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to terminate the pregnancy to protect the life of the mother while making every effort to preserve the life of the baby."
In plain English, that means: If a doctor feels that a pregnancy poses a real threat to a woman’s life, even if that threat is not immediate, they may perform a termination, usually by delivering the baby.
In recent weeks I have been made aware of a series of stories and claims being made online and elsewhere that simply do not reflect the reality of Irish medical care.
For example, a pro-choice meeting in Kildare was recently told that a woman who has cancer while pregnant cannot avail of chemotherapy in Ireland. This is simply false, and it appals me that such a claim would ever be made about our health service. Let there be no doubt: in such a situation, a woman can indeed be treated, even if the treatment leads to a detrimental outcome for the unborn child.
However, we now also now know that research has shown that chemotherapy and other treatments are usually safe for the unborn child.
Dr Frédéric Amant has been described by the Lancet as “leading the agenda on cancer in pregnancy”. His research, published in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at the European Cancer Congress, showed that cancer treatments for the mother do not harm the unborn child as was previously believed.
Fear of chemotherapy is no reason to terminate a pregnancy, maternal treatment should not be delayed, and chemotherapy can be given, Dr Amant concluded, adding that there was "no evidence termination improves outcomes for the mother".
My colleagues in Ireland in oncology practice tell me they have always been able to achieve an optimal cancer treatment for the mother without the need to forgo the life of the child. There is no question of women being denied life-saving cancer treatment because of the amendment.
- Professor Eamon McGuinnness consultant obstetrician and former chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
In recent weeks a number of us will have seen posters erected by the Labour Party telling people to quote .. "vote yes for womens health" . Clearly under the circumstances these posters are misinformation , the purpose of which is to fearmonger and mislead and should really be taken down or at the very least an apology should be issued by the Labour Party itself .