Common Questions

Women’s health – the truth

We have just come out of a referendum campaign where the facts were ignored in order to push through a vote for repeal and introduce abortion in Ireland.

There is no other way of saying it.  Many people voted Yes on the strength of misinformation and fear about the supposed risks to women from the 8th Amendment.  This myth was spread by repeal campaigners even though there was no basis for it.

During the campaign several consultant obstetricians stated that they were “horrified” at what they consider to be a deliberate “campaign strategy” of the Yes side to create “unnecessary fears” about women’s health.

Irish law and medical practice are clear – doctors can do whatever they need to do to save women’s lives, even if that results in the death of the baby. This was clarified in the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act 2013 which was introduced a year after the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar from mismanaged sepsis.

But much of the campaign to introduce abortion in Ireland has ignored these facts.

Scroll down to read more and get the real picture on women’s health in Ireland.


Former Chairmen of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Address Misleading Claims of ‘Yes’ Campaign

Five former Chairs of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have issued a public letter to voters stating that they are “appalled” at the words of leading Yes campaigners Dr Rhona Mahony and Dr Peter Boylan. They state that Drs Mahony and Boylan’s claims about the impact of the 8th Amendment on maternal health are are “simply not true and are nothing less than a serious misrepresentation of the Irish maternal health system.” Read More


Dr Mary Holohan Consultant Obstetrician and Former Dean of Professional Competence in the Royal College of Medicine issues letters addressing misinformation spread by “Yes” Campaigners

Dr Mary Holohan is a consultant Obstetrician in the Rotunda Hospital, and former Dean of Professional Competence in the Royal College of Physicians. She has not stated which way she will vote, and is not aligned with any campaign. The misinformation spread by doctors campaigning for legalised abortion has prompted her to issue two public letters (one in April and one in May) to challenge what she calls the “unnecessary fears” they have created in this campaign. She states that “the medical needs of the mother do not require removal of the 8th Amendment”. Read More


Dr Michael O’Hare, Consultant Obstetrician, issues letter addressing concerns of misinformation spread by the media

Dr Michael O’Hare is a Consultant Obstetrician, former Chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Chair of the HSE Working Group on Maternal Mortality. His role is to examine the facts and statistics surrounding maternal deaths and maternal health in pregnancy. He has issued a public letter stating that he is “concerned about misinformation” in the media about the impact of the 8th Amendment on the life and health of mothers. He states that “there is no evidence whatever of a higher risk of maternal mortality or severe morbidity in Ireland as a result of the Eighth Amendment.” Read More


Professor Eamon McGuiness piece in Irish Times addresses “campaign of fear and misinformation”

Professor Eamon McGuinness is a former chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Writing in the Irish Times he said that it is “very disturbing to see what amounts to a campaign of fear and misinformation” about women’s health spread by those on the Yes side. Read More


4 Consultant Obstetricians issue joint statement over the “scaremongering” from Yes Campaigners

4 consultant obstetricians –Dr. Eileen Reilly, Dr. Trevor Hayes, Dr. John Monaghan and Professor Eamon McGuinness also issued a joint statement in May saying that they were “worried about scaremongering” from those on the Yes side who wish to use fears about maternal mortality to push for abortion in Ireland. Read More


Professor Malachi McKenna and Dara Kilmartin, Consultant Ophthalmologist correct the record

The Yes campaign have also sought to create fears about women’s health. For example, they have created false fears about the management of diabetes in pregnancy. But Professor Malachi McKenna, Consultant Endocrinologist, and Mr. Dara Kilmartin, Consultant Opthalmologist, have clarified that there are no records of blindness in pregnancy in Ireland due to diabetes, and that “it is upsetting for such patients to be told that they might go blind during pregnancy, especially when there is no evidence of this happening in Ireland”.
Read More

People may differ on the legalisation of abortion in Ireland for personal or philosophical reasons. But one thing is clear – there are no medical reasons for introducing abortion. This is not a medical debate. There has been a concerted campaign to create fear and disseminate “fake news” on the issue of maternal health and well being.

It’s time the scaremongering stopped.

What can be done for families of babies with Fatal Fetal Abnormalities?

  • The term “fatal fetal abnormality” is grossly misleading. The HSE Bereavement Guidelines have opted for a more appropriate term – life limiting condition – to describe terminal illness or serious disability in a baby.
  • Doctors have no way of knowing how long a baby diagnosed with a life limiting condition will live. They can live for months and even years after birth. Studies have found over 70% of children conceived with anencephaly have live births, with roughly a third of these babies living for at least two days.
  • Kathleen Harkin from Co. Down was born with Patau Syndrome (Trisomy 13). Doctors at the time told her parents she was unlikely to reach her first birthday. Today she is eleven years old, attends school, and is cherished by her family. The outcomes of many children with life limiting conditions can be greatly affected by the level of care they receive early in life.
  • In Ireland today there are parents who have returned home from Britain after aborting their baby with a life limiting condition only to learn for the first time about the existence of perinatal hospice care as a positive alternative to abortion.
  • Instead of pressuring parents to go down the road of abortion, health care professionals should be given additional resources to provide high quality palliative care to facilitate families in sharing those precious moments with their baby for whatever length of time he or she lives.
  • This referendum is not about abortion for difficult cases, it’s about abortion on demand for any reason. If the 8th amendment is repealed, the right to life of all unborn babies will be removed.

One Day More is a support group made up of parents who received poor pre-natal prognoses for their babies. They support parents who find themselves in a similar situation.


Should abortion be decriminalised?

In Ireland, no woman has ever been prosecuted for procuring an illegal abortion.

Pro-choice campaigners in this country created the false impression that Ireland is somehow unique in having criminal sanctions for illegal abortion. The truth is that most countries, even ones with very permissive abortion laws, have sanctions against illegal abortions. In Britain, illegal abortion carries possible life imprisonment. Cases are highly rare, but in 2013 one woman – Sarah Catt – was sentenced for taking poison to abort her full term baby at 40 weeks.¹

Abortion is an extremely serious issue. It ends the life of an innocent unborn baby. There have to be deterrents in the law for something as serious as that. In the event, however, that any prosecution were to take place, it should focus on the abortion provider and not the woman seeking the abortion.

There are very legitimate reasons for this section of the law remaining as it currently stands. Take situations where individuals illegally import abortion drugs to self-administer without medical supervision. That’s a serious health and safety matter not just for the unborn baby’s life that is endangered but also for the woman involved. Situations like this arise in every country with or without legal abortion. It’s a reality today that all kinds of drugs, some very dangerous, are traded over the internet. But that’s no justification for legalising these dangerous drugs.


What happens to the baby after abortion?


  • In the vast majority of cases, he or she is disposed of by the hospital as clinical waste.
  • Sometimes babies can survive the abortion procedure. Official Canadian figures show that over a ten year period starting in 2000, 491 babies who survived botched abortions were abandoned by medical staff and left to die alone.¹
  • In the UK, the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health revealed that, in one year, 66 babies in England and Wales were born alive and left unaided to die after failed abortions.²
  • These figures shed light on the grotesque and chilling reality of legalised abortion. The fact that these practices are rarely talked about in public doesn’t diminish the barbarity of what is taking place.

Watch Melissa’s story


1. Statistics Canada. Table 102-0536 – Deaths, by cause, Chapter XVI: Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, (2012)

2. Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health, Perinatal Mortality 2005 England, Wales and Northern Ireland, April 2007: On page 28 of the report, it details that 66 babies were born alive after failed abortion in one year alone. The babies were left to die alone in hospitals corners without receiving any medical attention simply because they were unwanted: Sixty-six of the 2235 neonatal deaths notified in England and Wales followed legal termination (predominantly on account of congenital anomalies) of the pregnancy i.e. born showing signs of life and dying during the neonatal period. Sixteen were born at 22 weeks’ gestation or later and death occurred between 1 and 270 minutes after birth (median: 66 minutes). The remaining 50 foetuses were born before 22 weeks’ gestation and death occurred between 0 and 615 minutes after birth (median: 55 minutes).

Is abortion needed in Ireland to keep women safe?

No, in fact Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women. The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists welcomed the latest figures from the Maternal Death Enquiry (MDE)¹ which shows that Ireland has an exceptionally low rate of maternal mortality – lower than both Britain and USA which both have abortion on demand.

Five of Ireland’s most senior Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, including four former Chairmen of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, as well as the current Chairman of the HSE working group on maternal mortality, have announced they are ‘horrified’ by the false statements made by some colleagues during this referendum campaign in relation to maternal care in Ireland. They said, “Not one of our colleagues should ever be permitted to use the Eighth Amendment as an excuse for not treating a woman.” Read more here.

Some people have concerns following media reports about the tragic case of Savita Halappanavar in 2012. Three separate inquiries – by HIQA, the HSE and the coroner – have clearly shown that her death was due to mismanagement of sepsis². None of these reports blamed the 8th Amendment for her death. Sadly, thirteen missed opportunities were identified in Savita’s care. For example, there was no record of her vital signs being checked on her second day in hospital, and the results of an early blood test were not followed up. Had Savita received appropriate medical care, it’s likely she would still be alive today. Much has been done since Savita’s death to improve the protocols around the management of sepsis.

Ireland’s abortion laws were clarified in 2013. It is legal to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland to protect a mother’s life.³



  2. Inquest Report: The coroner’s nine recommendations endorsed by the jury, (April 2013); HSE Report, (June 2013); The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Report, (October 2013).
  3. Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013

How do pro-life laws save lives?

Laws that recognise the humanity of the unborn help to save lives in at least two very obvious ways.

Firstly, they act as a reminder that we are actually dealing with a hidden human being every time a pregnant woman is being spoken about.  So doctors treating pregnant women are looking after two patients and they have a duty of care to do all they can to protect the life and welfare of both.  If the woman in question falls ill while she is pregnant, her doctor will give her whatever treatment he needs while at the same time doing all he can to keep her baby alive also.  If the baby dies as an unwanted side effect of that treatment, then this is a tragedy for all concerned and the doctor has lost one of his patients.

There is a real ethical distinction between necessary medical treatments of interventionsl in pregnancy where the baby may be exposed to some risks and induced abortion, where the life of the baby is directly and intentionally targeted.  Another way of putting it is to say that abortion is the only medical procedure where if the human life (baby) survives, it is not celebrated but deemed to be a failure.

The other main way that pro-life laws save lives is to help create a culture where every effort is made to assist mothers and families who are facing unplanned or difficult pregnancies, encouraging them to continue with their pregnancy.  In countries where abortion is not freely available or where women have to travel for abortion, they have more time to find the help and support they need and continue with their pregnancy.  This was certainly the case for Mary Kenny who courageously told her story as part of the recent referendum to keep the Eighth Amendment.  You can read about how relieved she is to have her daughter Hollie by clicking here.

The fact that abortion is not readily available is something that saves lives in other ways too.  A recent study in Texas found that a 100-mile distance from an abortion clinic leads to a 10% drop in the number of abortions taking place.

The 8th Amendment was the best kind of pro-life law because it protected mother and baby equally:

‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

The 8th Amendment was the last remaining legal protection for unborn babies in Ireland.  It was passed by referendum in 1983 by a two-thirds majority, in response to the detrimental effects of the legalisation of abortion in other countries.  An independent report commissioned by the Pro Life Campaign estimated that the 8th Amendment saved 100,000 lives while it was in the Constitution.

Since its removal from the Constitution by referendum on 25th May 2018, there is a greater duty than ever on pro-life campaigners to work towards the restoration of full legal protection for unborn babies and their mothers in Ireland and to reduce the number of abortions taking place by ensuring that all of our laws are family friendly in every way.

1 in 5 babies are aborted in England and Wales every year

It might be hard to believe. But it’s true. 1 in 5 babies are aborted in England and Wales every year. Abortion campaigners try to dismiss these figures, downplaying the reality of abortion. But they’re not our figures – they come directly from the Office for National Statistics of England & Wales [1].

Abortion was legalised in England in 1968. There were 20,000 abortions that year. Within 5 years, that number skyrocketed to 110,000[2]. And the figures have kept rising. Today almost 200,000 babies are aborted in Britain every year [3].

Abortion campaigners try to hide the reality of these figures. For example, they say that if miscarriage is included the number changes radically. This isn’t true. When calculating miscarriage rates according to the method recommended by the Lancet medical journal [4] the figure does not materially change (it becomes 1 in 5.6).

Why are those campaigning for abortion so keen to hide the reality of what legalising abortion has meant in other countries?

Now that the 8th Amendment has been repealed, we have a big challenge on our hands as pro-life campaigners but it’s one we’re prepared to meet.  We must work hard to make sure that our culture doesn’t change and allow abortion to become normalised and as common as it is in England and Wales.

Ireland had an exceptionally low rate of abortion because of the 8th Amendment. Join us today to help us work to keep that rate as low as possible. 


Note: These abortions were performed on residents of England and Wales and the numbers are not influenced by Irish abortions performed in Britain.
[2] Ashton et al.(1983) Trends in induced Abortion in England and Wales, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 37, 105-110.
[3] Abortion Statistics, England & Wales, 2016
[4] Sedgh et Al. 2016, Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends. Lancet, 388, 258–67

The facts about illegal abortion pills

Many abortion campaigners have insisted that pro-life laws are pointless because some women order abortion pills online.  This is a red herring.

The truth is, the online purchase of illegal abortion pills are a worldwide problem, even in jurisdictions where abortion is free and readily available. Their use in Ireland is an issue for the authorities and custom control, and certainly does not warrant the removal of the right to life of the unborn from the Constitution.

A spokesperson for Britain’s largest abortion provider BPAS has complained that “staggering” numbers of illegal abortion pills are being used in Britain[1]. Introducing abortion on demand in Ireland will not prevent the use of illegal abortion pills here.

In an ideal world, we would be working towards reducing the number of abortions taking place, because in every abortion a baby loses his or her life and a woman runs the risk of serious physical or psychological harm.  This remains the case whether the abortion takes place surgically or using an abortion pill.  Life-ending pills must be regulated while we work towards building a society that protects and respects human life, born and unborn.


What about abortion following rape?

Rape is a tragedy. But abortion is not the automatic response to pregnancy from rape.

  • In Ireland, 76% of those who become pregnant following rape opt not to have an abortion[1].
  • In the United States, where abortion is widely available, it is estimated that about 50% opt against abortion[2]. One of those women is Shauna Prewitt, who says that she has never regretted keeping her child. She says that “the world would be a much worse place without my little girl”. Her daughter was innocent of any crime. Abortion would have ended her life.
  • Victims of rape who have opted for abortion have shared how the trauma of the abortion has been harder to overcome than the rape. Most notable is Miss C, who became pregnant after rape when she was 13. She was granted an abortion under the X case ruling. Today she is a mother two and says ‘you never forget your missing baby, it plays on your mind every day’.[3]
  • In countries with legalised abortion, it is estimated that less than 1% of abortions are due to rape[4]. This is not a referendum about abortion in limited circumstances – the decision facing voters is whether we want abortion on demand in Ireland or not.


“I wouldn’t be in favour of abortion… it isn’t the child’s fault that they’re the child or rape… Even, how would that work practically? I think where that’s been brought in in countries it has more or less led to abortion on demand”

Leo Varadkar, Interview with Irish Independent, May 2010[5]


[2] Holmes et al (1996) Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, (175): 2, 320-4