‘We can’t keep sending women to England for abortion’, says  Master of the National Maternity Hospital

Dr Rhona Mahony, the Master of the National Maternity Hospital, has said the country cannot continue to pretend that Irish women aren’t having abortions and that she favours the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking at the Labour think-in in Athy, Co Kildare, Dr Mahony said that, in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, it is no longer tolerable that we are sending women over to the UK for termination.

“We can’t keep sending people to England pretending it doesn’t happen,”she said.

She also said the Irish health system is a “toxic place to work” and after that six years as Master of Holles Street she is “exhausted”.

“Six years in and I am exhausted, I really am,” she told delegates before insisting she still loves her job.

Dr Mahony also said there are too many managers within the HSE operating above the hospitals.

She cited a nine-month delay in appointing a consultant to head up an emergency department at her hospital and called for more power to be devolved to the hospitals.

“We have a HSE that is actually growing, 13% growth in the corporate HSE and a 40% growth in administrative roles above the hospitals. Is that really where we want to focus our finite resources?” she asked.

In a hard-hitting address to Labour members, she said she favoured a repeal of the Eighth for a variety of reasons relating to women’s health.

“We have, in Ireland, terminations only when there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother that can be removed only by terminating the pregnancy.”

Dr Mahony said this poses great difficulties because doctors are making decisions based on risk, trying to quantify a risk and also in certain conditions she said they have to wait until a woman is sick enough before she qualifies for having substantial risk to her life.

In some cases she said that can be “medical roulette” and it can be very challenging.

She added that if the law deals with right, medicine deals with risk and sometimes they come into conflict. Dr Mahony said that when she is dealing with patients she finds it very difficult as a doctor to know that they will make their own arrangements.

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital said there are huge difficulties when women travel away — even the practical issue of bringing the baby’s body home and the stigma associated with being on a plane in the context of a huge tragedy.

“You are separated from your family and your friends,” she said, adding that women don’t really want to talk about it and women must feel at some level that Ireland doesn’t want to recognise or acknowledge this,” she said.

Dr Mahony also said there are too many hospitals in this country. She said there are 49 acute hospitals in a population of 4.7m.

Related Articles

Fianna Fáil ard fheis votes against pro-choice motion

Ireland to vote on retention of 8th Amendment in summer of 2018

Repeal the 8th campaign to hold Munster day of action

Abortion vote 'a very personal question for each individual', says Micheál Martin

More in this Section

Ophelia leaves 74,000 Co Cork homes without power

Irish team steal Leo Varadkar’s thunder with playoff date

Where, when and how to get to Ireland's World Cup play-off against Denmark

Fr Peter McVerry: ‘Evictions are a return to famine times’

Breaking Stories

Families evacuated after gas explosion in Belfast

No Lotto winner - jackpot heads for €7m

Abortion referendum moves closer as committee votes against retaining 8th Amendment

Gardaí enlist Civil Defence to use drone in search for armed raider in Clare


Facing fears while terrifying punters at Cork's Nightmare Realm

Weathering the storm of 1961: We watched 30 large trees uprooted

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

More From The Irish Examiner