Tuesday, 11 September 2012

"Abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman"

Last Saturday, 8th September 2012, an International Symposium on Maternal Health took place in Dublin. It was a truly remarkable event. Around 150 people crowded into the Great Hall in King’s Inn (off Henrietta Street) to listen to experts from Europe, Africa and the US speak about maternal health and foetal medicine. 

The organisers of the conference deserve to be congratulated for bringing together such an impressive array of speakers at a single event. Their breadth of research and combined level of experience must surely mean that this conference was unparalleled in recent decades in either Ireland or the UK. 

According to the World Health Organisation, the Irish Republic has consistently been one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women. And, while each of the speakers was an expert in his or her field, many of them expressed how honoured they were to have the opportunity to address the Irish medical profession which has such an outstanding record on maternal healthcare. 

At its conclusion, the Symposium issued the DUBLIN DECLARATION ON MATERNAL HEALTHCARE which states:
  • “As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
  • “We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.
  • “We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”
As the pressure on Ireland to liberalise its abortion legislation is growing, the timing of this event could hardly have been better. Its influence on the abortion debate is likely to be felt for many years to come. 

It would be difficult to report on the full line up of speakers or on the wealth of information they provided. Over the coming days, however, I will try to summarise some of the highlights of the Symposium.

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