A woman died traveling home to Ireland after undergoing an abortion in Britain an Oireachtas (Congressional) committee has heard.
Professor Fergal Malone, Master of Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, told legislators that, “We are aware of at least one of our patients from Ireland who died following a complication from a surgical termination of pregnancy while traveling between Ireland and a center abroad.”
The 8th Amendment to Ireland’s constitution bans abortions in all circumstances unless the life of the mother is deemed to be at risk from a continuation of her pregnancy.
3,265 women and transmen gave addresses from the Irish republic to British abortion clinics last year, whilst a further 833 said they lived in Northern Ireland where abortion is similarly restricted.
A referendum is to be held next year on whether the 8th amendment should be repealed or replaced and a committee of legislators is currently examining what exact proposal the voters will be asked to vote on.
For his part Prof Malone said be believed the 8th amendment "makes no clinical sense" and is harming the quality of care doctors can give patients.
“Forcing patients to travel between two jurisdictions, particularly when dealing with travel between islands, will inevitably increase the risks to mothers’ physical health and wellbeing,” he said.
Other problems, he added, included Irish hospitals not being able to make the referrals which led to “patients themselves communicating complex medical information” at hospital appointments in England.
However, the committee has recently come under fierce criticisms from two pro-life legislators who say it’s "skewed in favor of abortion" and as a consequence say they are considering their position.
"Over 20 groups and individuals pushing for abortion have been invited before the committee while only a handful of pro-life people have been invited,” Senator Rónán Mullen and TD Mattie McGrath said in a statement.
"It's a disgrace that the multi-million dollar US Center for Reproductive Rights was invited to the committee, but not a single person representing people saved by the 8th Amendment got called up."
McGrath later told RTÉ that he "didn't have much confidence" in the committee’s chair, Senator Catherine Noone, and that he hoped Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar would intervene and ensure both sides are treated equally.