Sunday, 23 April 2017

AIMS Ireland calls on government to set a date for a referendum on the 8th, let the people grant bodily autonomy to all, and stop the dilution of democracy

AIMS Ireland calls on the government to set a date for a referendum on the 8th amendment without delay.  The Citizens Assembly has again proven that there is a strong desire for change and that there is a belief that all people in pregnancy should be given choice and full rights over what happens to their bodies.  

AIMS Ireland would like to recognise the hard work, diligence and dedication of every member of the Citizens Assembly, who clearly, thoroughly considered all of the options put before them.  AIMS Ireland Chair, Krysia Lynch said, “We believe the members were put in an impossible situation by the Government and that, while very interesting, the whole Citizens Assembly exercise is nothing more than an attempt by the government to avoid or at least delay the process of referendum or ‘kick the can down the road’.”  

“The Citizens Assembly has no mandate from the people.  Constitutionally, it has no mandate to inform legislation.  In our opinion it is a dilution of democracy.  It must be affected individuals themselves who decide.”  added the AIMSI Chair.

AIMS Ireland feel very strongly that the 2 hugely relevant points failed to be discussed by the citizens Assembly:
  • The effect of the 8th amendment on maternity care
  • The effect of the 8th amendment on continued pregnancy, where a pregnant person has decided to continue her pregnancy to term.

“We feel these important points were not presented to the Citizens Assembly for deliberation and as a result the Citizens Assembly recommendations can not be seen as having taken all the issues into consideration” added Krysia Lynch.

Throughout its 10 years in existence, the Association for Improvements to the Maternity Services in Ireland has supported maternity service users through becoming pregnant, through pregnancy and beyond and have seen many cases of consent being overridden by the 8th amendment.  Service users have told their stories and continue to tell their stories to us daily.  People working within the maternity services have told of their constraints under the 8th.  AIMS Ireland demands that the 8th amendment be repealed, not reworded or replaced, for the safety and wellbeing of all our citizens.

In 2014, AIMS Ireland carried out a survey of people’s experience of the maternity services.  We had 3,000 respondents from all over Ireland.  Only 50% of respondents felt were given an opportunity to make an informed refusal of a test, treatment or procedure in childbirth.

The country’s national consent policy states that “consent is required from all pregnant women for any health and social care interventions” however because of article 40.3.3 of the constitution, “there is legal uncertainty over her right to refuse treatment”.  Therefore, the 8th affects every pregnancy in Ireland.

AIMSI recently queried Citizens Assembly Chair, Ms. Justice Laffoy, as to whether or not the 8th amendment can be used to legally justify a treatment or procedure taking place without a woman’s consent in a situation where the baby’s life is not in danger.

In a letter to AIMS Ireland, Ms Laffoy clarified that in the opinion of the legal expert, Emily Egan SC,  the 8th amendment cannot serve as a legal justification for carrying out a procedure or treatment without consent, if the life of the foetus is not in danger.  However we have seen in previous cases, namely Hamilton V HSE, that consent and whether it is given or not is a very grey area and up for interpretation.  As far as AIMS Ireland is concerned, the 8th amendment is still used as a justification tool for overriding consent in the delivery room.

AIMS Ireland welcomes the clear views expressed by the Citizens Assembly regarding the separating of physical and mental health issues.

Friday, 21 April 2017

AIMSI response to the Statement from St Vincent’s Healthcare Group 21st April 2017

AIMSI response to the Statement from St Vincent’s Healthcare Group

Aims Ireland notes the decision of Vincent’s Healthcare Group to review plans for the National Maternity Hospital.  We eagerly await the outcome of the review but stop short of welcoming the decision until the outcome is clear.

Aims Ireland reiterates that the only acceptable option is a national Maternity hospital which is an independent, secular, ethical maternity hospital based around clinical best-practice and evidenced based care.

We have represented maternity service users for 10 years and have had few issues that have caused such intense feelings of betrayal.

We know the hospital is badly needed but it can not be a case of take the hospital at any cost - the women of Ireland deserve more then that.


Thursday, 20 April 2017


For Immediate Release
Thursday, 20th April 2017

Maternity service users call for transparency and if necessary re-location of the National Maternity Hospital

Maternity service users in Ireland are outraged by the decision to grant ‘ownership’ of the New National Maternity Hospital to a religious order.  AIMSI, a consumer lead organisation representing service users, has received an unprecedented number of communications regarding the issue, since it came into the public realm earlier this week.
The association, which has for 10 years represented maternity service users in Ireland, is calling on the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD, to ensure the interests of women and babies are protected or rethink the entire NMH move.
“We are not denying that a new National Maternity Hospital is needed urgently” said AIMSI Chair, Krysia Lynch, “but a building owned by a religious order, operating via a company ‘owned’ by a religious order is not acceptable to service users.”
Krysia Lynch continued “Women of Ireland of all cultures and creeds, their babies and their families deserve and require care that is independent, follows evidence-based models, and is free from any and all religious, cultural, social or moral constraints.”
AIMSI also note that according to the Department of Health Statement on the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, the board will be made up of “9 directors; four nominated by SVHG, four by NMH, including the Master, and one will be an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.”  This could potentially mean up to 4 nuns representing Sisters of Charity, the landlords, sitting on the board of the new maternity hospital.  AIMSI note also that although mediator Mr. Kieran Mulvey didn’t “think it was anticipated” that nuns would sit on the board, nor did he say that it could not happen.
“We, the maternity service users in Ireland, would like to know how this decision came about in the form of publication of the discussion with the religious orders.  If those minutes show that the decision to grant ownership to the Sisters of Charity is the only way for this hospital to be built on this land, then we demand a rethink on the location of this hospital” added the AIMSI Chair.
AIMSI maintains that if an agreement is in place which ensures the ethos and clinical practice of the new maternity hospital is protected, including ensuring no presence by the religious order at Board Level, then who owns the land is irrelevant.  This is not the case with the current agreement.  The proposed 9-person Board structure is not 100% independent as it could potentially seat 4 members of the religious order. Furthermore there are no details as to how the external expert will be sourced or the conditions of their tenure, or who has veto over their selection and continuing presence.
Maternity service users have been given a strong message by the state with this move.  A message that the abuse they and their loved ones have suffered by religious orders do not matter.  Without bringing the issue of redress into the equation (as it was not included in mediation discussions, which is in itself bizarre) let us not forget the women that have suffered and died in the maternity system because of religious interference in ethos.  We all know who they are.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Krysia Lynch, Chair, AIMS Ireland on 0877543751 or Emily McElarney AIMS Ireland PRO on 0863856225.