Rotunda master’s comments on abortion criticised

Comments by the new master of the Rotunda that women carrying babies diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities should not have to travel to the UK for an abortion have been criticised by a group representing parents of such babies.

The group, One Day More, said it was “disappointed” at comments by consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist Fergal Malone concerning abortion in the case of babies diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.

In an interview in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, Prof Malone said the position at the Rotunda was that they would “wish to provide all care to our patients here”.

“We do not believe it is right that individual patients who make the choice [to travel to the UK for a termination]… that they should not be able to have that procedure done here. So we would like to see that situation change,” Prof Malone said.

However, One Day More spokeswoman Audrey Carroll said it was “very disturbing to hear abortion described as part of a health care system that should be available to families who are told that their babies have an illness that is likely to end their lives shortly after birth”.

“The members of our group know the shock and sadness that comes with a serious diagnosis, but also the joy of meeting their babies and spending time with them to make precious memories,” Ms Carroll said.

She said the group is calling on the Government to address a motion passed by the Irish Medical Organisation at their AGM in March last year, when they called on Health Minister Leo Varadkar to make proper provision for perinatal hospice care nationally.

“This would enable families to spend as much time with their babies as possible in a supportive and comforting environment. It would also allow care to be given to all of the patients involved, namely the parents, other siblings and the unborn baby who is seriously ill and in need of care.”

Prof Malone said the Rotunda has a “well-developed perinatal hospice system”. He said women given a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality were told what choices were open to them, but were never advised to abort, instead given “non-directive counselling”.

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