Belfast Telegraph

Irish hospital boss tells of 'jiffy bag' stigma on abortions

By Shona Murray

Women in the Republic who decide to terminate a pregnancy due to a fatal foetal abnormality "have to wait for their babies to come home in a jiffy bag", according to the Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Rhona Mahony said that her patients have felt "abandoned and stigmatised" in such cases.

"We send them to the UK when there's a fatal foetal abnormality to a different jurisdiction away from family and friends," she said. "They have to wait for their babies to come home in a jiffy bag", after the termination has taken place.

The Master of Holles Street was joined by Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, who described the difficulties faced by doctors when they consider a termination to save a woman from dying.

"If you have to wait until a woman is showing clear, clear signs that a woman is dying; that's too late," he said. "You're trying to quantify what degree of complications may arise.

"At what point can there be a high enough risk to the life of a mother that I can go and intervene?

"Is it a 10% chance that a bad infection will be there; is it a 20% chance, 40% chance?"

Both doctors also warned about the dangers of women taking unsupervised, illegal abortion tablets.

Around 1,500 women a year are taking abortion tablets; and around 2-3% of these will encounter medical problems.

Dr Mahony said: "We've had many more cases where women have been scared to divulge that they've taken tablets and have delayed their presentation.

"And I say to all women: we will care for you. Don't delay if you're not well."

She added that the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which gives equal right to life of the mother and the unborn, has not prevented abortions - "it has merely created a system in which it happens in a dangerous way".

Belfast Telegraph

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