Statement from AIMS Ireland on the lifting of In-Camera status in the case of Mother B vs HSE heard in the High Court, Dublin on 30th September 2016
Contact Krysia Lynch 0877543751
For immediate release
AIMS Ireland fully support all pregnant women and people in their choice to exercise bodily autonomy and choice as to treatments and procedures in pregnancy labour and birth. At present a pregnant woman’s right to make fully informed refusals are limited by the HSE’s national consent policy for pregnant women. This is in turn informed by the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution.
Commenting on this case Krysia Lynch, Chair of AIMS Ireland said, “Pregnant women and people are routinely subject to treatments and procedures within the Irish Maternity Services that they are unable to refuse. Our support service logs are full of cases where people report coercion and extreme pressure to agree to procedures which they may feel are harmful to themselves or their baby. The recent case of baby Conor Whelan in Cavan is one such example. Pregnant women also report procedures are performed without full informed consent, that is to say no alternatives are offered and the relative risks of alternatives and doing nothing at all are not fully explained.”
“In this particular case, AIMS Ireland fails to understand how the communication between this woman and her care providers could have broken down to such an extent that the HSE felt it appropriate to make an emergency application to the High Court. The HSE should make every effort to ensure that communication lines between patients and clinical staff always remain open, clear and transparent, without undue stress placed on the pregnant woman and their baby, and certainly without the threat of legal action, sedation and forced caesarean”.
Lynch continued, “In our What Matters to You Survey 2014, with nearly 3,000 respondents 50.2% of respondents reported that they were not given an opportunity for informed refusal during labour and birth. Pregnant women and people can feel extremely vulnerable at this point of their maternity journey and can be easily coerced with frightening statements or repeated citations of hospital policy. We would always recommend that people prepare a birth preference sheet and discuss this carefully with their care providers during an antenatal appointment so that their intentions as to their birth preferences are fully understood and are clear to all staff who will work with that family.”
AIMS Ireland is a consumer led voluntary organisation committed to improving maternity care in Ireland. We run a support service for pregnant people who require more information or have had issues with their maternity care experience. We sit on many HSE and Department of Health Committees as consumer representatives and we were the only consumer group to sit on the recent National Maternity Strategy Steering Committee.
AIMS supports anyone faced with legal action attempting to force medical procedures against a woman;s choice. We have direct links to a variety of legal services in the area of maternal human rights and will make appropriate referrals for pregnant people where required. Any person faced with coercion in the maternity services should contact firstname.lastname@example.org