Where else are women denied an input into their care?

A talk show on RTE today, Marian Finucane, featured Dr Peter Boylan, the expert witness at the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar, and Breda O’Brien, Irish Times columnist and patron of the Iona Institute. The Iona Institute is a reactionary Catholic group. Broadsheet.ie has already done a transcript, which is helpful.

Boylan said something quite striking…

And we cannot, as doctors, be expected to do our ward rounds with a calculator in one hand and the law in another hand. We have to be given the liberty to do what we feel is best for a patient and in this…These circumstances are the only circumstances in obstetric care where a woman’s wishes are not taken into account. Where she has no input into her care. Now if you think of any other sort of situation like that you end up talking about the Taliban. Where else are women denied an input into their care? In what other clinical situation? I can’t identify any. Women are very much involved in their care in obstetrics, in decisions to induce labour, decisions about Caesarian sections, decisions about all sorts of things. And that’s how it should be. But in this circumstances, they are not allowed. And that’s the law.

O’Brien simply obfuscated, and Boylan kept having to tell her she had the facts wrong.

Finucane: “I should clarify that you yourself are a patron of Iona, just for the record.”

O’Brien: “Absolutely, sure the whole country, anyone who knows me knows where I stand on this issue. But it is important to clarify where,  I think everyone should lay their cards on the table, where they stand on this. So, the point I was making was…I communicated with three obstetricians. They said, one of them said that there were glaring signs on the Sunday night which should have triggered a whole series of interventions, in terms of standard, bog standard care.”

Boylan: “On Sunday night?”

O’Brien: “That, yes.”

Boylan: “On the night she was admitted?”

O’Brien: “They said, that…one of them said to me that because she was fully dilated and…”

Boylan: “She wasn’t.”


Boylan: “Sorry, keep going. But you’re all wrong.”

O’Brien: “Peter.”

Boylan: “I’m sorry…just keep, OK, look, I won’t interrupt you again but this is depressing.”

O’Brien: “OK. Peter. OK.”

Boylan: “This is revisionism and the rewriting of the history of what actually happened. I went through those notes forensically, I read the transcripts forensically. So, don’t, please try and revise what actually happened.”

She keeps on doing it though.


  1. miraxpath says

    Is this quiz time?

    Hmmn, let’s see. Which country has a bigger population of catholics than the entire United States, has banned abortion in all situations , has (according to the WHO) about 800 000 illegal backalley abortions a yearwith up to a 100 000 of those women having abortion related complications and ending up in hospitals where they are often treated without anaesthetic as ‘punishment” , where 13% of all maternal deaths are due to illegal abortions (rising to 35% in some regions)?

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