There is much misunderstanding and concern surrounding this scenario. It is a misleading argument often raised by campaigners for abortion.
Taking away the unborn child’s right to life does nothing to save womens’ lives. Irish law has always been clear that if a woman’s life is at risk, doctors can intervene to save her life, even if this treatment risks the life of the baby. It means pregnant women in Ireland are never denied life-saving medical treatment.
The guidelines of the Irish Medical Council state that doctors are obliged to give all necessary medical treatment to pregnant women, even if it means the baby will not survive.
Furthermore, they state that if doctors refuse to treat women in these situations, they may be struck off the register.
Official reports into the Savita tragedy confirm her death was due to medical mismanagement and not the absence of legal abortion (Savita Inquest [April 2013], HSE report [June 2013], The Health Information and Quality Authority Report [October 2013]).
It is no exaggeration to say the majority of media organisations in Ireland channelled public distress and concern after Savita’s death. Media coverage wrongly suggested that if abortion had been legal she would not have died. This opinion was not supported by the evidence uncovered at the Inquest or subsequent reports.
Secondly, Ireland without abortion was one of the safest countries in the world for women to give birth. We have been ranked consistently among the top 10 countries worldwide.