Government should be supporting women, not restricting their reproductive and healthcare choices
An effective ban on homebirths in rural communities will compromise women’s health and put additional pressure on existing services in maternity hospitals, according to Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.
Deputy Cairns again raised the issue in the Dáil today, amid growing public concern at HSE proposals to restrict homebirth services to women and families living within 30 minutes of a maternity hospital.
“This ludicrous proposal, which is not evidence-based, has been greeted with shock by midwives and women. It will have far reaching consequences for thousands of families in rural areas, including parts of Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Donegal, Monaghan and Wicklow.
“Instead of restricting homebirths, the HSE should be investing in birthing clinics and midwife-led services across rural and urban communities, supported by a well-resourced ambulance service.
“The Midwives’ Association of Ireland and the Community Midwives’ Association have come out strongly against the plan, so who exactly is pushing this agenda? This shameful attempt to limit women’s reproductive and birthing choices seems to be a political or managerial decision that takes no account of the views of the professionals who run the service.
“The report on this proposal refers to an evidence review from 2015. It clearly states that no studies were found at the time which focused on transfers from standalone midwifery-led units, or homebirths, and any adverse outcomes. If there is no medical basis for this significant policy change, why is it being proposed?
“Going by the HSE’s warped logic, pregnant women should never be more than 30 minutes away from a maternity hospital as they could go into labour at any stage.
“The HSE is continuing to perpetuate a misconception that homebirths are not safe when the reverse is true. The current system for homebirth services functions well and should be improved and developed – not shut down.
“At a time when maternity hospitals around the country are warning of serious staff shortages, the move to restrict homebirths in rural communities will heap further pressure on existing services and simply compound the recruitment crisis.
“This plan is irresponsible and dangerous. The Government and HSE should be supporting women who choose homebirths instead of restricting their healthcare options.”
November 9, 2022