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The Life of the Mother

Rape, incest, or the life of the mother; these are typically the three reasons under which almost everyone would say that an abortion should be permissible. Well, an international symposium on maternal healthcare in Dublin, Ireland last weekend may reduce that number.

About 140 medical professionals were at the event, including experts in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and molecular biology. They presented new research on issues surrounding maternal healthcare, with a focus on high-risk pregnancies, cancer in pregnancy, foetal anomalies, mental health and maternal mortality.

Prof O’Dwyer and a panel of speakers also formally agreed a “Dublin declaration” on maternal healthcare. It stated: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.

There is that one caveat in that statement. In the course of other medical treatments required to save the mother’s life, if the baby dies, that is understandable. That could happen. And in a separate statement, the chairman of the group sponsoring the symposium stated it another way; no treatment should ever be withheld from a woman if she needed it to save her life, even if that treatment resulted in the loss of life of her unborn child.

But the symposium did say that an abortion, by itself, is never medically necessary to save her.

“Never”. That’s a pretty strong word coming from experts in their fields. But that’s what they said. And now the question is; will that have an effect on the abortion debate in this country? It ought to; this is a huge statement from people in the field who would know. But I haven’t heard it covered much in this country, which is a big reason I’m covering here, for whoever will listen.

It ought to change the debate in some way. I hope it will.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes and podcasts at “Consider This”.

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