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Deafening silence on maternal deaths now that abortion is legal

Gript and others reported on June 28th that: “three maternal deaths have taken place within a week in Ireland", revealing that a woman had died in University Hospital Kerry and that deaths were also confirmed in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and in Cork University Hospital.

The “alarming uptick” in women dying around childbirth led advocate for maternal safety, Mary Fitzgibbon, who is a nurse, midwife, and lecturer in nursing, to say that it is “clear from recent events that the government is not prioritising maternal safety” (my emphasis). 

Well indeed, why would they? It is only the lives of expectant mothers and their infants that are on the line, and that’s not glamorous. Prioritising maternal safety will not get three amigos of Taoiseach Simon Harris, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan on CNN, whereas dragging the old lectern out to recognise the state of Palestine most certainly will.

Ms Fitzgibbon also pointed to a €9 million funding deficit for the National Maternity Strategy last year and said that the government needed to be challenged on that deficit “as a matter of urgency”.”

It would be the media – especially state broadcaster RTÉ – that would do the challenging, but for some reason a €9 million black hole in the National Maternity Strategy is not top of RTÉ’s agenda.

Kicking up a stink about health services for pregnant women is not on the agenda of the mainstream media right now – but Taylor Swift concerts and imaginary hate crime waves are.

Stephy Scaria, a nurse who lived in Abbeyfeale, tragically died after a caesarean section in Cork University Maternity Hospital last Friday.

Separately, University Hospital Kerry has confirmed a maternal death involving another woman took place at that hospital, with Radio Kerry reporting that the Kerry hospital said that “in line with HSE policy on all maternal deaths, an external review will take place, while the coroner has also been notified”.

In addition, a woman also died tragically died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda in the last week. Naomi James died on June 23rd, last Sunday, after giving birth to a baby boy, Cal. Naomi leaves behind her loving husband and their 4 children.

The Journal reported, “Naomi James, who has been described as “amazing and beautiful” by her loved ones, died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda on Sunday 23 June after giving birth to a baby boy at home. She suffered a postpartum haemorrhage, known as a bleed, after the birth. Her son survived. It’s understood that an ambulance was called to the house after Naomi delivered her baby, and that she arrived at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda between 45 minutes and an hour later. Staff at the hospital worked desperately to try and save her life, and several have been left extremely upset by the experience.”

As previously reported on Gript, after the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar from sepsis, then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar set up the National Maternity Strategy group tasked with developing standards and processes in maternity services.

Mr Varadkar said funding for the strategy group would be ring-fenced “However, his successor, now Taoiseach, Simon Harris, then diverted ‘most’ of that funding to pay for abortions.”

I checked the Irish Times website on Friday the 28th and I did not see a single report of these maternal deaths. Three in one week for a country like Ireland is significant and tragic. There were, however, at least five pieces on the Taylor Swift concert. So, it’s good to know where their priorities are.

On the RTÉ website on the same day, there was also no report of these maternal deaths and, of course, an entire section was devoted to Ms Swift. The never not ridiculous Taoiseach Simon Harris had to get in on the act saying he had a ‘bone to pick’ with Taylor Swift. Something about a pebble on a beach or some such nonsense.

This was the same Simon Harris who transferred funds ring-fenced for the care of pregnant women to pay instead to terminate the lives of unborn babies.

Note the very great contrast, the huge disparity, the gargantuan distinction between how the media cover these three separate tragedies of women dying in childbirth compared to how the media covered the tragic death due to sepsis and medical negligence of Savita Halappanavar.

The coverage of that case was wall-to-wall, hysterical and non-stop. It went international. It was so ruthlessly pushed by the Irish media, RTÉ and the Irish Times, that I actually remember reading about it on a very niche parenting site in London, and no it was not Mumsnet. ‘Ireland murders pregnant Indian dentist’ was how  indiatimes.com headlined it.

Barely a day had passed, and it was a done deal; Savita Halappanavar was killed because there was no abortion in Ireland. That was to be the narrative and the media were sticking to it, aided by campaign efforts such as one particularly horrid video by Liam Neeson for Amnesty which talked of ghosts of the past haunting Ireland and bringing death, over images of Catholic symbols and overgrown churches.

The silence over these latest three maternal deaths is deafening, shocking, and telling. Because what the media don’t get hysterical about is just as important as what they do get hysterical about. If someone’s tragic death can be used to push a political agenda – say getting abortion on demand in Ireland -then that is what you will hear about all the livelong day. The lack of abortion on demand may have had nothing or very little to do with the death, but the media will never let facts get in the way of their agenda. And they certainly didn’t when it came to the case of Savita Halappanavar.  (See page 56 of report).

The report into the death of Savita Halappanavar found a “failure to provide the most basic elements of care in her case.” The Hiqa report said there were 13 different occasions on which a potentially life-saving intervention could have been made but were lost.

Victoria White hit the nail on the head saying “the terrible story of Savita’s death is not about abortion. It is a story about medical negligence of appalling proportions.”

White said Savita Halappanavar “had it all at her fingertips. And it was ripped away by our medical service. Her death means we can’t look after people properly, particularly not pregnant women. Her legacy should certainly not be the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, nor even the deletion of the Eighth Amendment. It should be a proper, safe, functioning health service that treats all our citizens equally.”

White continues: “Never again,” the placards read at the demonstrations following Savita’s death. But the hard truth is it will take far more than a new abortion law to make sure what happened to Savita never happens to another woman.”

These latest maternal deaths are evidence that ‘Never again’ was a lie. It demonstrates that by pushing for abortion on demand the media did more than secure that particular evil it also wasted an opportunity to put pressure on the government to provide better maternity care for all women.

So, it should come as no surprise that there have been three maternal deaths in a week: it’s a disgrace, but it’s not surprising. These women and their appalling deaths cannot be used to further the abortion on demand agenda, or some other pet cause of the media establishment, so they barely get a mention in the news.

There are no demonstrations or placards for them. We don’t get the Taoiseach making a statement condemning the appalling state of the health service that would allow such a thing to happen – don’t you know there is a Taylor Swift concert on? Can’t you just get out of my face?

The Repeal campaigners spent much of their time terrifying pregnant women that without abortion on demand they were moments from death. That the Republic, with the pro-life laws, was a dangerous place for a pregnant woman. It was all lies.

The campaign of terror worked and they got their repeal but we still have tragic maternal deaths. In fact, funds that should have been spent on maternal care (recommended after the Savita Halappanavar case) were diverted by the now Taoiseach, Simon Harris, to spend on abortions.

Abortion on demand has not improved maternal care. How could it? But the abortion regime has drained resources away from maternal care. It has done the exact opposite of what the Repeal campaigners promised – but then you knew it was all lies at the time.

The Repeal side got what they wanted; on Friday evening government figures confirmed that there were 10,033 abortions in Ireland in 2023, shocking numbers. A big congratulations to the Repealers on that win. They must be pleased.

What's increasingly obvious is that an increase in maternal deaths is being ignored because securing abortion on demand was more important than providing safe and effective care for pregnant women. I’d like Liam Neeson do a video on that.




Laura Perrins, is an Irish barrister who lived and worked in the UK for many years, where she was the founder of the Conservative Woman website. She has also written for the Daily Mail, the Catholic Herald, and Chapter House. She writes regularly from Ireland on her substack.


This article was first published on Gript and is printed here with permission


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