Anna Carnegie, spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) reacted to the news that St. Luke’s Hospital, the main hospital serving Kilkenny and Carlow has refused to provide abortion services.
“It is unacceptable that four consultants have made a categorical decision not to provide abortion care at St. Luke’s, even if other staff in the hospital are willing to provide these services. It shows callous disregard for the health and needs of the women and pregnant people attending the hospital. Four people should not be able to decide that all patients who need abortions should have to travel to Dublin or Waterford for the services they are legally entitled to.”
“The letter detailing the decision described the hospital as “an unsuitable location” for abortion services. This sentiment is nothing but a manifestation of abortion stigma. Abortion is a routine healthcare procedure. Globally, it is one of the most common gynaecological procedures women access in their lifetimes. As an acute public hospital, of course St. Luke’s is a suitable location.”
Ms. Carnegie continued “Last year 86 people from the Carlow/Kilkenny area were forced to travel to the UK for abortion care. This year many will be forced to travel to the larger cities – essentially replacing ferries and planes with buses and trains. In addition to the situation in St. Luke’s, we understand that Carlow is one of the counties without any GPs providing community-based abortion care. Many people cannot travel long distances for abortion care, for various reasons including costs, caring responsibilities, health issues, precarious employment or controlling partners. Women and pregnant people in these situations are being denied their rights. It is unsurprising that abortion pills continue to be imported illegally despite the change in the law.”
“We call on the Government to ensure that safe and legal abortion care is accessible locally throughout the country. Institutional obstruction and refusal of care such as this is insulting to women and pregnant people and in defiance of the will of the Irish public which was expressed in last year’s referendum. ARC will continue to campaign for free, safe, legal and local abortion care, across the island of Ireland. No one left behind.”E
Anna, it’s not a simple and straight forward issue. Kilkenny is not unique nationally and my colleagues are all faced with challenges even in the larger centers.
The current insurmountable issue for me, as a clinician, is the lack of an appropriate location to care for these women. Our gynaecology ward was closed years ago ( so much for women’s health) and we even struggle at times to facilitate our women having miscarriages in sensitive locations.
Another issue is the impossibility of delivering a safe service with just one clinician willing to participate and also one overburdened midwife sonographer.
We don’t even have routine 20 week anomaly scans!
So it’s challenging. The letter to the CEO of the IEHG should not have been generally circulated. It was sent in an effort to get the hospital group think about developing the service and pathways for our women.