Minister fails to Adress Maternity Care and Abortion in Ireland

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Health, Women's Rights

To ask the Minister for Health his plans for maternity care in 2015, in view of the number of high profile maternity cases which occurred in 2014, highlighting serious deficiencies in Irish maternity care.

– Clare Daly T.D.
My Department is currently developing a National Maternity Strategy in conjunction with the HSE which will be completed this year. The strategy will determine the optimal configuration of maternity services to ensure that women in Ireland have access to safe, high quality maternity care in a setting most appropriate to their needs. It will be informed by a national review and evaluation of maternity services being undertaken by the HSE.

A sum of €2m has been provided in the National Service Plan 2015 to address current pressures within maternity services. Additional obstetricians, midwives and other front line staff will be appointed. The HSE has also advised that a new National Maternity Office will be established within the HSE Acute Hospitals Division in 2015, and this I hope will drive further service improvement.

The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s campus is also progressing and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala later this year. In addition, following the decision to locate the new children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital, and the need to achieve tri-location of adult, paediatric and maternity services on that campus, it is necessary to review the proposal to relocate the Coombe to Tallaght and the Rotunda to the Mater. Work has now commenced on that review and will be completed shortly.

My officials will, of course, continue to engage with the HSE, to monitor implementation of the recommendations of a number of reports on our maternity services, and, in particular, to ensure that robust clinical governance and management arrangements are in place for maternity services at hospital group level.

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Leo Varadkar)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 21/01/2015
To ask the Minister for Health if he will amend the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in view of the chilling effect of the criminal sanction and the subsequent replacement of medical considerations with legal concerns.

Clare Daly T.D.
As the Deputy is aware Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution states that:

‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

The interpretation of Article 40.3.3 was considered by the Supreme Court in Attorney General v X in 1992. Further, in December 2009, the European Court of Human Rights heard a case brought by three women in respect of the alleged breach of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights in regard to abortion in Ireland. This action was known as the A,B, and C v Irelandcase.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 was enacted in July 2013 and commenced in January 2014. The purpose of this Act is to restate the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland while regulating access to lawful termination of pregnancy in accordance with the X case and the judgement in the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case. The Act received very careful consideration by the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Health and Children, including three days of public hearings.

I am not proposing any amendments to the Act or the 8th Amendment of the Constitution at present.