Covid-19 restrictions in maternity hospitals are "nonsensical" and another example of "male chauvinistic privilege", the Dáil has heard.
Calling for an easing of restrictions, Independent TD Thomas Pringle said women are being given the devastating news that their pregnancies are not viable and are going through miscarriages without a loved one present.
He told the Dáil that this goes against World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations which state Covid-19 should not impact on a woman’s right to have a partner of her choice with her throughout a pregnancy.
Approximately 30,000 babies have been born in Ireland since the pandemic hit and restrictions were introduced more than six months ago.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil that guidelines are currently being drafted by Dr Peter McKenna. However, he said he could not promise that pregnant women and their partners will be treated the same in all maternity hospitals even when the guidelines are published.
Mr Martin said: "The difficulty of uniformity across the system is because different locations have different risks and protocols applying in different hospitals and maternity wards. That also has to be acknowledged as there has to be some degree of local decision-making in respect of the overarching objective of protecting people in situations such as this."
Mr Pringle called on the Taoiseach to ensure that maternity wards will make the "reasonable decision" to allow partners to be present at the birth and the 20-week scan which, he said, is the most important time in pregnancies.
"This issue is not about visitors restrictions but is about restrictions that are stopping one person, who is the support for a pregnant woman, from actually being present at vitally important times in the pregnancies," the Donegal TD said.
He claimed that the current measures only allow the father in at "the eleventh hour" and therefore "put the man’s needs ahead of a woman’s and does not recognise that she has an internationally recognised human right to have her support present".
Mr Pringle said he had been contacted by a considerable number of worried women and their partners, including one constituent who is due to give birth in January and had to receive emergency care at 13 weeks gestation without her partner present.
"It is nonsensical that partners or husbands of pregnant women are not allowed into the delivery ward with their partner, and even doubly so that they are not allowed to attend the 20-week scan and have to sit outside in the car park in many cases."
The Taoiseach said the restrictions go "against the very grain of what is natural and normal in such situations". However, he said they were being implemented in the interests of public health.
"We have to acknowledge the risk managers in hospitals, those whose overarching objectives are to protect people. We should accept the motivation of all involved, which I surmise, is genuine," Mr Martin told the Dáil.