Pro Choice group demands terminations at local hospital

Abortion services are to commence at Cavan General Hospital this year, according to the HSE. In a statement to The Anglo-Celt last week, it confirmed that there are 17 maternity hospitals providing early termination of pregnancy services and the remaining two hospitals - Cavan and Clonmel - “will begin service provision in 2024”.

Meanwhile, Cavan Pro-Choice says it is standing “unwavering and demanding urgent action”.

Jade Farrelly from the group says the local hospital must accelerate its processes “to promptly provide the essential termination of pregnancy services that women rightfully deserve”.

The group has written to Minister Heather Humphreys requesting an update on the introduction of the services and is also seeking clarity on when these services will be made available. Ms Farrelly, meanwhile, says the group has faced “constant setbacks” in the rollout of terminations services at Cavan General Hospital.

“This situation is wholly unacceptable; the hospital was initially scheduled to offer full termination of pregnancy services by the end of 2019 but staffing issues hindered the implementation,” she continued.

“The Government’s commitment to a program for all 19 maternity hospitals to provide termination of pregnancy healthcare by early 2024 has not materialised,” said Ms Farrelly.

Her comments follow a prayer protest at the entrance to Cavan General Hospital late last month by the Choose Life Cavan branch.

It’s highlighting, among other points, medical and hospital staff’s right to refuse to participate in providing these services on grounds of “conscientious objection”.

2022 saw the highest number (116) of women with addresses in Cavan terminate pregnancies in any given year since the eighth amendment was repealed in 2018.

The Cavan Pro-Choice group was unimpressed with the recent protest.

“Instead, we witnessed a prayer protest outside Cavan General Hospital’s gates in January, involving members of the clergy. It is noteworthy that the Access to Safe Zones Bill passed with an overwhelming majority of 117 votes in favour to 10 against.”

The local group also pointed out that, while a recruitment process for medical practitioners at the hospital concluded with interviews in January 2023, one year on “essential healthcare services are still unavailable”.

“Failure to provide local services is not acceptable, and referring women to another maternity hospital, forcing them to travel for healthcare that should be accessible locally, is a disgrace,” she added.

“Failure to protect fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 has consequences for our government,” warned Ms Farrelly.