The delayed report of the Working Group on fatal fetal abnormality has been released today.
Here are the key findings;
5. Health professionals said that, in their professional opinion, retaining the existing legal constraints would continue to place an unacceptable burden on women’s health and wellbeing.
6. Health professionals felt that they were unable to fully meet their duty of care to their patients, particularly when a woman asked for a termination in the interests of her health and wellbeing and in circumstances where no viable life could ensue.
7. The FFA working group acknowledges proposals by the PHA for a series of improvements in healthcare arrangements to lessen the impact of the journey to other jurisdictions for women who choose termination for fatal fetal abnormality. However, it was the considered view of the FFA working group that there is still nothing to alleviate the trauma for the woman of travelling away from home and family at such a difficult time, the loss of her dedicated medical team and the associated financial cost.
8. The group also considered that it might be regarded as disproportionate and inequitable for the state to make such efforts to alleviate the burden on women of travelling to another jurisdiction to have an abortion, in effect facilitating what would be the commission of a crime in this jurisdiction, yet not being prepared to adjust the law to provide the procedure here.
9. One of the most compelling cases for change was the overall recognition by those health professionals who spoke to the group that the existing legal framework prevents them from fully meeting their duty of care to all women in this situation and therefore denies those women who wish to terminate the pregnancy, access to proper standards of health care.
10. In summary, health professionals considered the current situation to be professionally untenable.
The Working Group recommends a change in legislation in to provide for termination of pregnancy for fatal fetal abnormality.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs