Please expand any of the links below to find our full press statement on the issue listed.

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087  6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

Government called on to ensure Ireland's system of maternity care respects women's human rights in birth, for immediate release 30th July 2017

News release for immediate release 30/07/17. Download PDF version here:  mfc-uncat-release-30-july-2017

Government called on to ensure Ireland’s system of maternity care respects women’s human rights in birth

The UN Committee Against Torture has called for Ireland’s system of maternity care to meet human rights standards. Chair of Midwives for Choice Philomena Canning said: ‘we welcome the recognition by the UN Committee Against Torture that action is needed to bring Ireland’s system of maternity care in line with human rights standards’.

‘Consent to medical intervention in birth is key. Women have a right not to be subjected to routine medical interventions that are medically unnecessary. The government has now been called upon to affirm their rights during pregnancy and childbirth.’

During Ireland’s examination by the Committee Against Torture, human rights expert Ms Felice Gaer indicated that the system known as ‘active management’, which underpins the management of labour in Irish hospitals, was problematic from a human rights perspective.  ‘Active management is an inherently coercive system that is designed to maximise throughput in the labour ward. The Eighth Amendment has, and is, being used to enforce women’s compliance with unwanted medical intervention’, said Ms Canning.

‘Ms Gaer has now asked Ireland to state whether existing policies in maternity care are human rights compliant, that is, whether they reinforce women’s right to consent to or decline medical treatment. We look forward to hearing the government’s  view on this.’

‘The rapporteur for Ireland, who is Vice Chair of the Committee Against Torture, also asked the government to declare that “labour ward efficiency” cannot be used to justify [routine] interventions – done to accelerate labour – that are medically unnecessary. Such a declaration would have a major impact on the medical culture that currently predominates in the labour ward.’

Speaking on her return from Geneva, the Chair of Midwives for Choice concluded: “Midwives for Choice welcomes the Committee’s timely recognition that non-consensual intervention in birth may constitute torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and that such involuntary intervention is facilitated by the Eighth Amendment. This is a critical contribution to a debate that is set to intensify in Ireland in the coming months’.

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Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

 

midwivesforchoice.ie

@midwives4choice

Facebook.com/midwives4choice

 

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087  6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

 

 

The biggest maternity hospital in Europe flies in the face of women’s human rights in childbirth, for immediate release 12th May 2017

News release for immediate release 12/05/17

The biggest maternity hospital in Europe flies in the face of women’s human rights in childbirth

Download PDF here: news-release-for-it-opinion-piece-12may2017

Midwives for Choice stands firmly against the proposed new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) on grounds that it flies in the face of women’s human rights in childbirth. Philomena Canning, the group’s chairperson, has challenged the claim by Rhona Mahony, master of NMH, that our need for the biggest maternity hospital in Europe is beyond argument. “A massive birth factory catering for 10,000 births annually is contrary to the evidence on how the best outcomes for healthy mothers and babies are achieved”, she said.

 

“The consequences of centralised, medicalised production of babies is seen in ever-increasing instrumental and surgical birth, admission rates to neonatal intensive care units, and postnatal depression rates up to 28%. How long must we wait before women’s demands for choice in childbirth are heard?”, she said.

 

Referring to the evidence, Canning added: “It doesn’t take €300 million to resolve the over-crowding of NMH for a safer maternity service. Irish-based evidence shows that our maternity hospitals can be relieved of 23 per cent of their caseload by investing in community infrastructure to develop a midwifery-based model of maternity care.”

 

Birth centres run and managed by midwives for healthy women are equally as safe for babies as obstetric units; are associated with significantly and substantially reduced intervention in birth; and with increased levels of satisfaction for women and midwives. Added to these benefits, birth centres generate significant cost savings compared to obstetric units.

 

Earlier this year, CEDAW (the UN Women’s Committee), echoed by the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, drew Ireland’s attention to the need to bring maternity services into line with international human rights standards. Calling on the Minister for Health to be cognisant of his obligations under international human rights treaties as he reviews the controversial plans for the new hospital, Canning said: “Rights to self-determination, bodily autonomy and informed consent and refusal of medical care and treatment in maternity care are of utmost importance for the health and safety of the mother and baby. These rights are protected for all women by providing the choice of a midwifery-based model of care for healthy women.”

 

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Further information: Ciara Considine, Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

Notes for editors:

See CEDAW’s Concluding Observations below. Available at:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fIRL%2fCO%2f6-7&Lang=en

 

  1. The Committee is concerned at information that the State party has a policy of having 3 births per 24 hours for every bed in maternity wards, which does not respect the normal birth process. The Committee is particularly concerned that child delivery is highly medicalised and dependent on the use of artificial methods to accelerate the process such that women are made to deliver babies within 8 hours of hospitalization due to lack of resources in hospitals.

 

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party revise its policy on medicalisation of child delivery and the use of maternity wards to ensure that women can have access to maternity and delivery services without time pressure or being exposed to artificial methods of accelerating births; and provide information in the next periodic report on the strategic plan aimed at launching a widely supported maternity health-care policy and programme respecting the birth process.

 

Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

 

midwivesforchoice.ie

@midwives4choice

Facebook.com/midwives4choice

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Criticises Ireland’s over-medicalised system of maternity care, for immediate release 30th March 2017

News release for immediate release 30th March 2017. Download here – chr-council-of-europe-30-mar2017

Ireland’s over-medicalised system of maternity care criticised by Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe

Midwives for Choice welcomes today’s findings from the Council of Europe. Reporting on his visit to Ireland last November, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe noted Ireland’s system of maternity care as one that provides “an over-medicalised model of childbirth”. Welcoming the Commissioner’s concerns, Philomena Canning, chairperson of Midwives for Choice, said: “This is the second time Ireland’s industrialised system of maternity care has been criticised by an international body. We strongly support the international calls for maternity care that respects the needs and choices of individual women.”

During Ireland’s human rights examination in February this year in Geneva, the UN Women’s Committee, CEDAW, called on the government to ensure that women can access maternity services that do not use artificial methods to accelerate labour and that respect the normal birth process, describing Ireland’s system of maternity care as one that transformed the most important experience of a lifetime for women and their partners into a production-line process.

In his report, the Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that pregnant women and adolescent girls are entitled to receive care that is respectful of their human rights, dignity and autonomy. Expressing concern about the consequences for women in childbirth of protecting the right to life of the unborn on an equal basis with the right to life of the pregnant woman, the Commissioner highlighted the “common practice by hospitals of invoking the Eighth Amendment – with threat of, or actual, court order – to force women to comply with medical decision-making about their care and treatment with which they do not agree”.

Says Ms Canning: “Bodily integrity is a legal, constitutional and human right in Ireland that is flouted on a daily basis in our labour wards. The language of ‘medical necessity’ to protect the baby, backed up by the Eighth Amendment, cloaks the denial of women’s fundamental rights in childbirth, as the evidence on their subjection to involuntary medical intervention and invasive procedures shows.

“We fully endorse the Commissioner’s concerns about the negative impact of the Eighth Amendment on the human rights of all women throughout pregnancy and childbirth, and we share his hope that this legislation will soon be repealed.”

-ends-

Further information: Ciara Considine, Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

Notes for editors:

See Report of Commissioner for Human Rights of Council of Europe; available at:

https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetIm age=2965978&SecMode=1&DocId=2399932&Usage=2

80. Amnesty International reports that state and religious institutions continue to subject women and girls to strict and punitive social controls a round their sexuality, producing a strong sense of stigma about abortion in Ireland. Several stakeholders have informed the Commissioner that current practice seems to give precedence to foetal life over the potential risks to the woman’s life and health. There have been allegations of a “common practice by hospitals of invoking the Eighth Amendment – with threat of, or actual, court order – to force women to comply with medical decision – making about their care and treatment with which they do not agree” (Midwives for Choice, Submission to CEDAW, January 2017).

See Report of CEDAW; available at:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC% 2fIRL%2fCO%2f6-7&Lang=en

44. The Committee is concerned at information that the State party has a policy of having 3 births per 24 hours for every bed in maternity wards, which does not respect the normal birth process. The Committee is particularly concerned that child delivery is highly medicalised and dependent on the use of artificial methods to accelerate the process such that women are made to deliver babies within 8 hours of hospitalization due to lack of resources in hospitals.

45. The Committee recommends that the State party revise its policy on medicalisation of child delivery and the use of maternity wards to ensure that women can have access to maternity and delivery services without time pressure or being exposed to artificial methods of accelerating births; and provide information in the next periodic report on the strategic plan aimed at launching a widely supported maternity health-care policy and programme respecting the birth process.

Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services

regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

midwivesforchoice.ie

@midwives4choice Facebook.com/midwives4choice For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

Ireland's industrialised system of maternity care criticised by UN, for immediate release 6th March 2017

News release, for immediate release 6 March 2017 – CEDAW Findings Press Release

Ireland’s industrialised system of maternity care criticised by UN

 

Midwife groups have welcomed today’s findings from the United Nations. Welcoming the UN call for a system of maternity care that respects the needs of individual women, Midwives for Choice said it was “a watershed”: “This is the first time Ireland’s industrialised system of maternity care has been criticised by a UN Treaty Body. We strongly support its call for a system of care that respects the needs of individual women.”

 

Expressing concern about Ireland’s highly medicalised system of childbirth, the UN Women’s Committee criticised the policy of having three births per 24 hours for every bed in the labour ward. “We fully endorse the Committee’s view that such a system does not respect the normal birth process”, Philomena Canning, chairperson of Midwives for Choice, said.

 

“We also share the Committee’s concern that women are made to deliver babies within 8 hours of admission to the labour ward. This is a system based on involuntary medical interventions that are designed to accelerate labour.”

 

During Ireland’s human rights examination last month in Geneva, human rights expert Patricia Schultz told the government that the “economic rationalism” of the Irish system “transformed the most important experience of a lifetime for women and their partners into a production-line process”.

 

“CEDAW has now called on Ireland to ensure that women can access maternity services that do not use artificial methods to accelerate labour and that respect the normal birth process”, Ms Canning said.

 

“The 8th Amendment denies the fundamental rights of women in the labour ward to bodily integrity and self-determination. If CEDAW’s recommendation on individualising maternity care is to be realised, the 8th Amendment must be repealed as a necessary first step.”

 

-ends-

 

Further information: Ciara Considine, Communications Officer, Midwives for Choice, 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

Notes for editors:

See CEDAW’s Concluding Observations below. Available at:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW%2fC%2fIRL%2fCO%2f6-7&Lang=en

 

  1. The Committee is concerned at information that the State party has a policy of having 3 births per 24 hours for every bed in maternity wards, which does not respect the normal birth process. The Committee is particularly concerned that child delivery is highly medicalised and dependent on the use of artificial methods to accelerate the process such that women are made to deliver babies within 8 hours of hospitalization due to lack of resources in hospitals.

 

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party revise its policy on medicalisation of child delivery and the use of maternity wards to ensure that women can have access to maternity and delivery services without time pressure or being exposed to artificial methods of accelerating births; and provide information in the next periodic report on the strategic plan aimed at launching a widely supported maternity health-care policy and programme respecting the birth process.

 

Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

 

midwivesforchoice.ie

@midwives4choice

Facebook.com/midwives4choice

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Press Statement, for immediate release 16 February 2017

News release, for immediate release 16 February 2017 – Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women News Release

Ireland slammed for use of ‘active management’ system in labour at UN CEDAW hearing in Geneva

UN experts have called for the system known as the “active management” of women in labour to be abandoned. The system, which is based on involuntary medical intervention to accelerate labour, ensures a high turnover of beds in the labour ward. It is very prevalent in Ireland.

The call came during Ireland’s human rights examination in Geneva by the CEDAW, the Women’s Committee of the UN Committee. Referring to the “economic rationalism” of the Irish system, Swiss human rights expert Ms Patricia Schultz underlined the objective, which is to have “three births per 24 hours for every bed in the labour ward”. This, she told the government, “transformed the most important experience of a lifetime for women and their partners into a production-line process”.

She told the government that the UN body was concerned that the issue of consent was not addressed by active management in a way that is in line with international standards.

The resources the government plans to put into the health system should be sufficient, she said, to respect the rhythm of each individual birth. “Will you retrain medical personnel to use this new approach to birth?” she asked. Ms Schultz also called for the interventions used routinely to accelerate labour to be abandoned, along with the use of “blanket” consent forms.

Her final question for the government was: “Will you also organise training for midwives to provide services in home birth for women who choose that system?”

Philomena Canning, chairperson of Midwives for Choice, who was in attendance, says: “Midwives for Choice welcomes CEDAW’s emphasis on the need to individualise care in birth. We strongly support Ms Schultz’s call for the abandonment of the system known as the ‘active management’ of women in labour. Her criticism of this authoritarian system from a human rights perspective is timely, as is her emphasis on the need to develop home birth services.”

-ends-

 

 

 

Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

 

midwivesforchoice.ie

@midwives4choice

Facebook.com/midwives4choice

 

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087 6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

Mother B vs HSE Press Statement, for immediate release 3 November 2016

News release, for immediate release 3 November 2016 – Download PDF

JUDGEMENT WELCOMED BY MIDWIVES AS MOST SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH IN IRISH HISTORY

Midwives for Choice (MfC) welcomes the judgement in the case of HSE v Mother B as a landmark victory for women’s human rights in childbirth in Ireland. Respect for the rights of women to informed decision-making about their care and treatment in pregnancy and childbirth is pivotal to maternal and infant health and safety. This judgement holds the promise of better outcomes in Irish maternity care in the future.

MfC cites it as of key importance in signalling to the HSE that the use of “such reasonable and proportionate force and/or restraint” as necessary to perform an invasive surgery will not be tolerated in a bid for compliance.

Says spokesperson Philomena Canning: “The basis for this case underlines the gross harm to pregnant women in Ireland that arises from the 8th amendment. It is our view that what Judge Twomey rightly asserts as amounting to ‘grievous assault’, if it happened to a woman who was not pregnant, is an attempt by the HSE at nothing less than obstetric violence.

“While the judgement is to be commended, we are concerned by the one-sided picture which emerges of a woman – Mother B – who, although of sound mind, willingly took considerable risks that may have endangered herself or her baby.

“It is clear, however, that key elements in understanding the motivation of Mother B, in resisting an elective C-section, do not appear to have been given due consideration by consultant obstetricians, Dr A and D, both witnesses for the HSE. These concern the benefits of such a choice, balanced against the risks which are outlined in such detail – along with risks arising from the elective procedure not addressed.

“The risks of concern to a mother considering elective C-section at term include the increased risk of overall and serious respiratory morbidity for her baby, compared to vaginal birth or emergency Caesarean section. In turning down an elective C-section, Mother B gave her baby the benefit of the hormonal changes preceding the spontaneous onset of labour that give effect to the critical process, reflected in evidence, of the final preparation of the baby’s lungs for its first breath. She apparently had no issue about C-section once she achieved spontaneous labour, since she ultimately opted to have it; her motivation it would seem clear was her wish for the best possible start in life for her baby. Midwives for Choice honours and supports Mother B in her informed decision making.

“We abhor the attempt by the HSE to question the capacity of Mother B, creating the impression of conflict between her and her baby, rather than between her and her health care providers. We similarly denounce the attempt by the HSE to suppress the publication of the judgement, on the grounds of perceived concern for the baby ‘since this was likely to lead to Baby B becoming aware of the decision of her mother to risk Baby B’s health’. This shows a complete failure to recognise or respect the mother’s right to informed decision-making.

“However, despite its shortcomings, this judgement is to be welcomed with open arms as the single most significant of its kind for human rights in pregnancy and childbirth in Irish history. Judge Twomey sets an important precedent in maternal rights, recognising that the ‘constitutional provision is not unlimited in the sense that the vindication of the right to life of the unborn under article 40.3.3 applies “as far as practicable”’ .”

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Notes on MfC

Midwives for Choice is a voluntary Irish organisation which advocates for an Irish society and a world where the rights of all women and girls to be safe and healthy before, during and after childbirth are upheld. This is achieved by ensuring they can make informed choices in their sexual and reproductive lives, and have full access to high quality information, education and health services regarding sex, sexuality, contraception, safe abortion, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

For media queries contact Ciara Considine 087  6294969 or mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

 

Midwives concerned at report of misleading pregnancy counselling, for immediate release, Tuesday 06 September 2016

Press release – for immediate release, Tuesday 06 September 2016.  Download PDF here: Midwives Concerned at Report of Misleading Pregnancy Counselling

Midwives concerned at report of misleading pregnancy counselling

Midwives for Choice is concerned at the report of erroneous and dangerous advice provided by a Dublin-based pregnancy counselling centre, in an article by @ellenmcoyne (The Times, 4 September).

Says spokesperson Philomena Canning: ‘It is deeply disturbing that misleading information can legally be provided to vulnerable women and girls facing a crisis pregnancy. It constitutes a grave abuse of the human rights of these women and girls. People in crisis pregnancy situations need access to objective, evidence-based medical information and non-biased counselling in order to facilitate them to make the right, informed decision for themselves. This report shows the difficulties arising from the lack of proper regulation in Ireland of pregnancy counselling services.

‘It reveals that assertions which have no basis in evidence, yet which provoke fear, were made to the attending woman. There is categorically no evidence of increased risk of breast cancer, suicide or child abuse associated with abortion, as claimed. Women and girls in crisis pregnancy situations should be reassured of the safety of abortion pills in terminating a pregnancy up to 10 weeks’ gestation, and that abortion is a safe procedure for the vast majority.

‘For women in need of abortion information, we advise they seek this through “3-option” agencies such as the IFPA, One-Family and Well Woman centres.

‘As we have advised before, all women and girls in need of post-abortion care in Ireland should visit their GP, or present to maternity hospital services, in the event of any concern, and be reassured of the high standard of care and treatment they will receive.

Referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment A Red Line Issue, for immediate release Tuesday 16th February, 2016

Press Statement: Tuesday 16th February, 2016 (Re: Pre-Election Press Conference 17th February, 2016).

Referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment A Red Line Issue

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, with a platform of 50 organisations, has reiterated the importance of including a referendum in the next programme for government. Commenting at their pre-election press conference today, Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition said: “Abortion has become a key issue in this general election. Attempts by the political establishment to keep a lid on it have failed entirely. Abortion has not gone away and pressure is mounting on politicians like never before. The historical failure to right this wrong has come to a head. If the general election campaign so far has shown us anything, it is that the public is now wide awake on this issue and is calling for clear political commitment on the issue. The Eighth Amendment is a growing source of national shame and it must be repealed. Any party that backs away from this issue cannot look the electorate in the eye and ask to be put into Government. It is time for political leadership. Political parties must make this a redline issue and include a referendum in the next programme for government”.

Speaking at the press conference, Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council said “NWCI have long said that women’s reproductive health rights do not belong in the Constitution. It is clear that there is a growing momentum for change, and politicians cannot continue to ignore the will of the people. The Eighth Amendment prevents doctors and midwives from providing proper care to women and significantly limits women’s autonomy in pregnancy. UN treaty bodies have consistently found that Irish abortion laws violate international human right standards and Ireland is in serious breach of its international obligations.”

Chair of Midwives for Choice, Philomena Canning, reiterated the importance of repealing the Eighth Amendment as opposed to replacing or amending it “….we see the chilling effects of this draconian measure in our maternity services. Combined with the complicating effects of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, it seriously undermines women’s health, safety and well-being in pregnancy and childbirth. We are calling upon our elected representatives to take appropriate steps to remedy this by decriminalising abortion and calling a referendum for repeal of the Eighth with immediate effect.”

Mandy La Combre, representing the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment noted that “Barriers to reproductive rights for women are also barriers to full, social, economic, political, and workplace equality. The 8th amendment as it stands denies women their rights and dignity, therefore, it is crucial that progressive movements such as the trade union movement take a leadership role on repeal, and we urge our members to view this as a redline issue when it comes to the upcoming election.”

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment consists of 50 organisations including trade unions, pro-choice groups and human rights organisations such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Amnesty Ireland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. ENDS

Midwives Launch Pro-Choice Campaign, for immediate release 28 January 2016

News release, for immediate release 28 January 2016- Midwives Launch Pro-Choice Campaign

Midwives launch pro-choice campaign advocating for repeal of 8th amendment

A pro-choice campaign led by health care professionals, Midwives for Choice, will launch on Saturday 30 January. The campaign will represent midwives and consumers of maternity services across Ireland who share its aims and objectives of safe, high- quality reproductive, maternal and newborn health care. Says campaign spokesperson Philomena Canning: ‘The eighth amendment has failed in its objective of fetal protection from abortion. While undermining the human rights of women by denying access to safe, free and legal abortion in Ireland, the eighth amendment also has damning implications for choice across the spectrum of pregnancy and childbirth, evidenced by its exclusion of all pregnant women from the National Consent Policy. ‘Denying women a role in decision-making about their care in pregnancy and childbirth undermines the safety and welfare of mothers and babies. In the name of fetal protectionism, the eighth amendment provides for the enforced compliance of healthy women in childbirth with routine intervention – without medical necessity and contrary to best practice. As a consequence, physiological birth is increasingly becoming a vestige of the past, as the trend in the national Caesarean section rate, currently at 30 per cent, continues to rise. While the increase in surgical birth has not resulted in more live babies, the upward trend in Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is a pattern shown elsewhere to correlate with rising Caesarean section rates. ‘MfC welcomes the recognition by the just-published National Maternity Strategy of the need for an overhaul of maternity services incorporating midwifery-led care as the default model for best outcomes for healthy women and babies. However, we assert that the required reconfiguration identified by the Strategy can only be implemented by repeal of the eighth amendment, to enable meaningful woman-centred maternity care, contingent on pregnant women exercising full and informed consent and refusal.’ Says launch keynote speaker Elizabeth Prochaska, UK barrister and founder of Birthrights: ‘Midwives for Choice represents a significant breakthrough in reproductive choice activism in Ireland. As the campaign towards a referendum on the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution gains momentum, the voice of front line health care professionals – the guardians of women’s rights – cannot be underestimated. Birthrights welcomes Midwives for Choice to the growing international movement working towards improved human rights for pregnant women.’ [ends] Launch venue: Alexander Hotel, Fenian Street, Dublin 2 Talks: 11.30am-1.30pm PRESS PHOTOCALL: 1.40pm Inaugural members meeting: 2.30pm web: midwivesforchoice.ie twitter: @midwives4choice Media contact: Ciara Considine, 087 6294969 ciaraconsidine@gmail.com/mfc@midwivesforchoice.ie

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