So did you hear the one about the professor who goes into a Dáil Committee. She says that “that the mental health of every person in Ireland is being damaged by the Eighth Amendment”. There is no punchline. Professor Veronica O’Keane’s claim is beyond a joke, but in the bizarre world of the Oireachtas Committee on Abortion it doesn’t really seem to matter what you say as long as you are cheering for abortion.
The headlines were dramatic, and wholly misleading, but when it comes to abortion unfortunately this sort of fake news reporting has become the new standard in Ireland. So first, let’s set the record straight: a child was not locked up for seeking an abortion in Ireland, and nothing in Irish law would permit any woman to be detained because she requested an abortion. So what are the facts of the case? Firstly, very little is known apart from what was detailed in a report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project. That project reported that a consultant psychiatrist had recommended that a pregnant girl be detained “because she had a mental health disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act ….. and was at risk of self harm and suicide”.
What makes Chile and Ireland similar countries in matters of maternal health and abortion? In September 2012 I had the invaluable opportunity to participate as a member of the Committee on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare, convened in Dublin to analyze the experience of Ireland, Chile, and other countries with a high standard in maternal health around the world. The meeting was crowned with the Declaration of Dublin
We have been hearing a lot in recent months about how abortion legislation is necessary to safeguard women’s health and lives. There has been a lot of talk also about maternal mortality figures and their reliability. So just what effect does a restrictive abortion regime have on maternal health? Is the notion that abortion is necessary in order to improve maternal health just hearsay and opinion or is it based on solid empirical evidence? If one consults the recent Oireachtas hearings on the Expert Group Report on the ABC case, Irish experts confirmed that they are not aware of any Irish women dying due to the unavailability of abortion here. Therefore, what effect could the legalisation of abortion possibly have on improving our maternal mortality rate – which incidentally is one of the best in the world? A recent study carried out by Chilean doctors on the incidence of abortion in Mexico, sheds even greater light on the likely negligible effect legalising abortion would have on decreasing the incidence of maternal death here.