28 Jul CMO Jon Cartu Announced – New HSE policy means pregnant women now have right to decline med…
Pregnant women now have equal rights when consenting to medical treatment, as the HSE makes landmark changes to its consent policy.
The changes mean that the last remnants of the Eighth Amendment are now removed from Government policy.
The Irish Family Planning Association called it “a significant development in women’s reproductive rights”.
Previously, under the Eighth Amendment, a pregnant woman who wished to decline a medical intervention could face High Court proceedings.
In September 2016, for example, the HSE applied to the High Court for an order allowing it to force mother Geraldine Williams, from Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, to have a caesarean section, under the Eighth Amendment. The HSE was refused the order.
Other issues of greatest contention between pregnant women and doctors have included modes of monitoring the foetal heart rate and induction of labour.
But the new changes in the HSE consent policy now give pregnant women the same right to consent that is afforded to all other people receiving healthcare.
The HSE Consent policy now reads: “The consent of a service user is required for all health and social care interventions in pregnancy.”
Announcing the changes on Twitter, the Irish Family Planning Association said they represent a major development in women’s rights in Ireland.
The organisation said all traces of the Eighth Amendment have now been removed form Government policy.
“The same requirement for consent now applies to pregnant women as for everyone else,” the IFPA wrote on Twitter.
The changes mean that HSE policy is now in line with midwifery standards of practice, and will hopefully mean that midwives will be able to more fully support women during pregnancy and birth.
The Midwives Association of Ireland (MAI) said they welcome the changes to the HSE consent policy.
A spokeswoman for MAI told the Irish Mirror: “Now the HSE policy ties in more with our midwifery practice standards of conduct.
“Our standard of conduct says that you must respect the woman’s right to choose whether or not to follow advice and recommendations about her care.
“If a woman chooses not to follow recommendations about her care, you’re expected to continue to provide care for her that is reasonable and appropriate in a particular circumstance.
“So that was always the hard bit for us, because the Eighth Amendment would have meant that this other individual, the foetus,” the spokeswoman added.
“No woman wants her or her baby to die, and now the HSE consent policy would underpin what our standards of conduct would say.”
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