Colleagues Call on Boylan to Step Aside


Fifteen obstetricians and gynaecologists have written to Dr Peter Boylan to say that his campaigning for repeal of the 8thAmendment is inappropriate as chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians. They acknowledge his right to campaign for liberalised abortion laws, if he wishes, but says that he should step aside from his Institute role for the duration of the campaign.


The fifteen hospital consultants are from the Maternity Directorate of the South/Southwest Hospital Group. They include one consultant who signed the Together for Yes petition, and acknowledge a broad range of personal views among their group on the referendum, but say they have “a strong consensus view that the Institute of Obstetricians should, as a professional body, reflect the diversity of opinion by not actively campaigning for either side.”


The doctors remind Dr Boylan that as chairperson of the Institute, he is the “public face” of the Institute. “We respectfully request that you refrain from public advocacy on this issue. We recognise that individual colleagues may decide to campaign publicly for either side of this debate. If you feel personally obligated to campaign, we believe that it would be best that you temporarily stand aside as Chairperson of the Institute until after the referendum.”


The letter comes amid growing concern among obstetricians that misleading claims being used to advance the case for repeal of the 8thAmendment are bringing their profession into disrepute.


Last month, Dr Mary Holohan, consultant obstetrician at the Rotunda Hospital and Dean of Professional Competence at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, wrote a letter to the Irish Independentto express her concern “that recent statements are causing unnecessary fears for women.” She points out that Ireland’s existing law “fully provides for the small number of cases relating to necessary obstetric interventions.”


“Where it arises, the duty to intervene to save the woman’s life is clear. Under the present law, we have full freedom and support for the requirements of ethical and safe practice. We have the scope of practice needed to guarantee best international standards of care to women in pregnancy.”

Irish Independent. April 10. The Irish Times. May 16.

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