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Readers Blog: Where are pro-life when it comes to homeless?

Miriam Beattie (We should keep the Eighth Amendment, Irish Examiner, September 5) states: “Ireland was once known as the safest place in the world to have a baby”.

She claims that because of the Eighth Amendment — which reduces the worth of a sentient woman to that of a foetus at any point in its development — “our obstetricians had become exceptionally skilled in saving the lives of both mother and unborn baby in the most complicated of situations”.

This is a claim frequently made by those who want Ireland to maintain its constitutional diminution of women’s bodily rights. It is a claim — in and of itself — that is not an outright lie.

There was indeed a time when Ireland claimed to be the safest place in the world to have a baby. A 2007 World Health Organization report on maternal mortality rates — deaths per 100,000 live births — showed that, appallingly, 900 mothers die in every 100,000 live births in sub-Saharan Africa. In Latin America, it’s 130. In East Asia, that figure is 50. In the rich countries of the developed world, nine mothers die in every 100,000 births.

In Ireland it seems that only one mother died in every 100,000.

There was, of course, a very good reason we were allegedly nine times safer for mothers than richer countries with better health systems.

Ireland was not recording maternal deaths on Irish death certificates as being caused by childbirth.

We were, to quote the TV series The Wire, juking the stats, changing the parameters of our responses so as to alter the outcome. In other words, we were lying.

Since 2009, we have joined the UK’s Confidential Maternal Death Enquiry system and we now have accurate statistics. In Ireland, we record between nine and 10 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Those figures tally with other rich, developed countries, including countries like the UK which have liberal abortion regimes.

It is disingenuous in the extreme to claim that Ireland was once the safest place in the world to have a baby when we know that claim was founded on falsified statistics.

Here’s a statistic that is not falsified: There are 8,000 Irish people currently homeless, 3,000 of them children whose lives are being blighted by the lack of a proper home. Where are the “pro-life” when it comes to helping the actually alive?

Donal O’Keeffe
Co Cork

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