Friday, 4 November 2016

AIMS Ireland: Maternity Care based on medical best practice, NOT Constitutional Amendment.




Maternity : adjective,  
 
"of, relating to, or for the period in which a woman is pregnant or has just given birth to a child."
 
 
 
 
What is Maternity Care?
 
Maternity Care covers a wide base of health services to women and other pregnant people, responding to the needs of various eventualities in the Maternity Continuum which may occur from the moment a woman becomes pregnant, to birth and the postnatal period. This definition covers a wide range of services, including abortion. As a campaign and support organisation, AIMS Ireland further extends this definition to include women planning a pregnancy, (pregnancy prevention, fertility services, etc,) and we also supports women whom contact us years (sometimes decades) after a traumatic birth.
 
AIMS Ireland campaigns for the implementation of evidence based best medical practice. Any discussion on evidence based best practice cannot be had without the inclusion of bodily integrity, autonomy, informed decision making. Whatever your terminology of preference, this issue, the right to informed consent / informed refusal, is the very cornerstone of medical ethics and best care practice in all realms of health. This right is eroded in Ireland in maternal health; reproduction, abortion and in continued pregnancy, labour & childbirth due to the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution. A non-pregnant woman with full capacity is legally recognised to make decisions on her health care - the right to informed consent/refusal. However, the moment she becomes pregnant, her capacity is immediately diminished.

The State removes viable care options from her.
The State owns her decisions and body.
The HSE directly cites the Constitution as a barrier to consent in her health care should she decided to continue her pregnancy.
 
A health care system which fails to provide the full range of safe, accessible care options with scope for informed decision making is void of best care practice. Removal of choice is never best practice. As a Maternity Rights and Advocacy organisation, is futile to have a position on rights violations in continued pregnancy and birth under the 8th without also including abortion. And vice versa. The two are inherently linked as part of the maternity continuum and equally restricted by ramifications of the 8th Amendment.
 
 AIMS Ireland holds a position which supports full autonomy, to all women, in all aspects of her healthcare. As elected unanimously by our members. We support a position of maternal requested abortion and birthing autonomy. A maternity system based on full care options, medical best practice, and maternal autonomy. Not Constitutional Amendment.
 
Maternal Requested: What is it? Why does AIMS Ireland support it?
 
AIMS Irleand supports every woman to make an informed decision on her healthcare in her personal circumstances. It is never about the choice, or if you would make it for yourself. Its about supporting a woman's right to weigh the risks, for and against, the options being presented to her in order to make the best decision for her, in her current personal circumstances, taking on board her medical history. There are no absolutes in maternity care, its about balancing risks and making a decision you feel safest in *at that moment* with scope to revisit the issue if medical indication arises.
 
Maternal requested - the woman is the lead decisioin maker in HER healthcare based on HER personal circumstances.
 
Maternal requested abortion.
Maternal requested Caesarean.
Maternal requested Homebirth.
Maternal requested Foetal screening.
Maternal Requested.
 
AIMS Ireland work with pregnant women. We have supported thousands of women in the last decade. Women make good decisions. They are articulate, informed, and acutely aware of their circumstances and what they are capable of. To deny women agency over their decisions and body, to ask them to give their decisions away to strangers, is a gross violation of rights of half the Irish population. It also creates an unsafe medio-legal environment for service users and health care providers alike. The 8th Amendment fails to protect anyone, and in fact, actually creates more risk for all individuals within the maternity continuum. Women needing abortion. Women in happy healthy pregnancies, prevented from making decisions in pregnancy, labour and birth which they feel is best, safest, for themselves and their baby. Failure to provide a full continuum of services, failure to provide evidenced best practice.
 
 
AIMSIreland believe all maternity services should be publicly funded
 
With all its many flaws, which are very serious and at times dangerous, one of the most positive aspects about the Irish maternity system is that it is free to all who enter its doors, whether resident here or visiting at any time, and that the midwives are highly trained to 4 yr degree standard. Healthcare should  not be dependent on ability to pay nor should it differienciate duty to care by whom is worthy, or not, based on their personal circumstances, needs, choices, or medical history. Abortion should be a part of any evidenced safe maternity services in order to maintain a duty of care for all within the maternity continuum. The moment we begin selecting whom may or may not have duty to care, a medio-legal conflict is created with devastating direct consequences on the most vulnerable service users. As recent and past cases have shown.

Shiela Hodges.
Michelle Harte.
Savita Halappanavar.
Mother A.
Ms Y.
Mother B.
 
 
 
Repealing the 8th and Maternity Care
 

The 8th Amendment affects women's autonomy to birth. The HSE directly citing it as a barrier to consent in continued pregnancy and childbirth. AIMS Ireland have reiterated this issue since 2010, that the 8th Amendment has direct consequences on the rights of birthing women in Ireland. AIMS Ireland has supported many women whom have been threatened with High Court proceedings for their birth choices, most consent under duress of the threats, however recent court proceedings - HSE v Mother B - realises the extent of this issue to the public issues which we have witness for a decade.
 
Repealing the 8th and replacing it with similar legislation which gives equal rights to the foetus in some instances will result in no changes for pregnant women/people in happily continued pregnancy. With shared rights a pregnant women/person is automatically considered of reduced capacity in the ability to make an informed decision, consent to, or decline care options and interventions in continued pregnancy, labour, and childbirth.
 
The HSE directly cites the 8th as a barrier to consent in continued pregnancy and childbirth. Further, The Capacity Act legislation outlines the importance of Advanced Health Care Directives, as being legally binding to ensure patient wishes, but outlines that these directives can be overruled in the case of pregnancy.
 
Pregnant women/people should be the lead decision maker on their care - if, where, how, with whom they give birth. In no other realm of health is a person with full capacity's right to bodily autonomy diminished.
 
Bodily autonomy is the cornerstone of medical ethics. Removal of this right in the instance of pregnancy is discrimination. Removal of choice is never best practice.
 
The Repeal conversation must be opened to include continued pregnancy and the dangerous ramifications the 8th has on ALL aspects of maternity care in Ireland. The 8th Amendment effects EVERY pregnancy.
 
** Note: AIMS Ireland fully recognises that not all individuals who become pregnant identify themselves as women. We try to use inclusive language as much as possible. The use of "woman" is reflective of the majority of individuals seeking our support. However, we fully recognise that discussions surrounding maternity services and the 8th Amendment should be inclusive to all whom are affected.

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