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On 7th March 2017 Professor Emeritus Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran gave a presentation to parliamentarians and NGOs on how Ireland can develop women-centred healthcare practice.

The event was hosted by the IFPA on behalf of the All Party Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, of which the IFPA is the secretariat.

Professor Arulkumaran is one of the world’s most distinguished obstetricians and a leading figure in the development of international best clinical practice in obstetrics and gynaecology.

He was also chair of a panel of inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012.

Professor Arulkumaran told attendees, “Abortion rates are greater in countries with restrictive abortion laws” and that generally, “People are not in favour of penalising women who abort.”

He continued, “A woman’s right to autonomy, combined with the need to prevent unsafe abortion, justifies the provision of safe abortion.”

He concluded by suggesting that obstetricians and gynaecologists should come up with recommendations about what is in the best interest of their patients.

Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, also spoke at the event.

She outlined what it is like to practice as a doctor in a context where abortion is criminalised in almost all circumstances.

Dr Mahony stated, “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 is cumbersome and complicated.”

She described how, under the current law, “You have to wait for the patient to be sufficiently ill so that you can accurately predict the risk of dying. How easy is it for a doctor to predict this? It's dangerous.”

For more on this topic, see podcasts from previous events here,