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Call for Improved Provision of Services at Home and Overseas

By June 18, 2004News

– Release date: 19 June 2004

On the 11th of June the Irish Electorate voted to pass the 27th Amendment to the Constitution thus removing the constitutional right of all children born in the country to Irish citizenship.

One of the chief reasons the Government gave for bringing forward the Referendum was that a great many women were travelling here in late stages of pregnancy to give birth, and that these births were placing excessive pressures on the Irish maternity system.

During the campaign members of civil society and the medical profession fought to refute the Government's argument and communicate the harrowing reality for minority ethnic women pregnant in Ireland.

The Referendum has done nothing to address the reality of our under-resourced maternity hospitals or to help mothers in Ireland.

The IFPA has recommended several steps the Government must now take in order to secure the reproductive health and rights of pregnant women and those wishing to plan their families:

  • Invest in maternity hospitals to prevent overcrowding, facilitate the expected growing demand for maternity and gynecology services, and secure resources to accommodate the diversity of incoming patient’s needs.
  • Secure information provisions, making information on all options of reproductive health care easily accessible and in the appropriate language so that all women in Ireland are able to make informed and non-coerced choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.
  • Take measures to combat both overt and covert racism through cultural awareness training or race awareness packages.
  • Create a standard translation service for use within health care settings as well as a 24 hour language interpretation service within hospitals.
  • Advertise family planning services aimed at women from outside Ireland to ensure they are aware of the services that they can avail of.

The Association also calls for increased investment in organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation to ensure that women, within their own countries have safe and secure access to sexual and reproductive health care.

Facts related to Irish Immigration and Family Planning

According to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, more immigrants to Ireland in the last several years are Nigerian by birth. In addition, sizeable numbers of asylum seekers have immigrated from Moldova, Zimbabwe and the Ukraine.

If we compare the circumstances surrounding reproductive health care in Ireland with those countries that women are immigrating from, the shocking disparities in safety and access to care become apparent.

Ireland
Infant Mortality: 6 per 1,000 births
Maternal Mortality: 24 per 100,000 births
% of Women not attended at all during labor and delivery: 0%

Nigeria
Infant Mortality: 79 per 1,000 births
Maternal Mortality: 1,100 per 100,000 births
% of Women not attended at all during labor and delivery: 58%

Zimbabwe
Infant Mortality: 55 per 1,000 births
Maternal Mortality: 610 per 100,000 births
% of Women not attended at all during labor and delivery: 27%

Moldova
Infant Mortality: 20 per 1,000 births
Maternal Mortality: 65 per 100,000 births
% of Women not attended at all during labor and delivery: 1%

Ukraine
Infant Mortality: 15 per 1,000 births
Maternal Mortality: 45 per 100,000 births
% of Women not attended at all during labor and delivery: 1%

*

All statistics are from the UNFPA State of the World Population 2003

Donnellan, E. Deliveries of non-national mothers go on increasing. Irish Times.15 March 2004.

Healey, A. Baby boom recorded in Coombe, Holles Street. Irish Times. 19 February 2004.

Murphy-Lawless, J., & Kennedy, P. (2002). The Maternity Care Needs of Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women. East Coast Area Health Board, South Western Area Health Board, and Northern Area Health Board.

Arend, E. (2002). Framing Sexual and Reproductive Health Care for Ethnic Minority Communities. Irish Family Planning Association.

Murphy-Lawless, J., & Kennedy, P. (2002). The Maternity Care Needs of Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women. East Coast Area Health Board, South Western Area Health Board, and Northern Area Health Board.