Abortion legislation is misguided

Dear Editor, In pregnancy, Irish medicine has a long-held tradition of treating both patients: the expectant mother and her developing child. In the recent case of the young woman who was raped and became pregnant, she has suffered greatly.

However, it is wrong to think that an abortion would solve the problem. Having an abortion does not reverse the pregnancy – it kills the child. The hurt continues. In this case, the child was delivered prematurely at 25 weeks but may die or may have serious illness as a result. It is important to note that there are cases of
babies who were delivered at even earlier gestations and have subsequently grown healthy and strong.

It is understandable to think that terminating the pregnancy or having an abortion would help the young woman through lessening her suffering. However, there is abundant evidence that abortion is harmful to the mother’s mental health especially if: there is a history of mental health problems; she is young, ambivalent or coerced; has children already; has poor supports; or has previously experienced abortion. The suffering of the mother in this case is inestimable. One can only hope that she avails of the excellent help and support available from Ireland’s world-class psychiatric services.

The terms of reference of the HSE enquiry into the medical care of these patients relates to the timeline of events. The Government and the HSE should realise that each baby is the same baby, the same life, at 25 weeks as it is at 12 weeks and as it is at birth. Due to the inclusion of the suicidal ideation clause, the current legislation is misguided and ineffective in what it is supposed to do, i.e. protect life in pregnancy.

Yours etc.,

Doctors for Life Ireland,

Dr Eileen Reilly, Galway,

Dr Rita O Connor, Shannon,

Dr Rory Maguire, Dublin, 

Dr Orla Halpenny, Dublin,

Dr Deirdre Gleeson, Kildare.