From an article written by Carol Coulter in the Irish Times on 28th February 2002.
Masters of the Dublin Maternity Hospitals call for Yes Vote
The Masters of the three Dublin maternity hospitals have called for a Yes vote in the referendum on the basis that it protects obstetric practice where a woman's life is at stake.
However, they told a press conference yesterday they favour abortion being available in Ireland, under strictly controlled conditions where the foetus could not survive outside the womb.
In a joint statement, Dr Sean Daly, Masetr of the Coombe Women's Hospital, Dr Declan Keane of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street and Dr Michael Geary of the Rotunda Hospital said they believed the amendment gave protection to doctors caring for women at risk of dying as a result of being pregnant. They said they were speaking in a personal capacity, rather than on behalf of the boards of their hospitals or their colleagues, some of whom have different views.
...... The three masters were asked what they thought should be done in a case such as that of Ms Deirdre De Barra, a woman carrying a foetus with a congenital abnormality which meant it could not survive outside the womb- her letter was published in The Irish Times earlier this week.
'Ms De Barra's case is very tragic and it is not an isolated one,' Dr Geary said. 'The current system does not address the needs of these women sufficiently. Their care and counselling is not sufficiently addressed.'
Dr Keane said all the maternity hospitals offered amniocentesis (a test for foetal abnormalities). 'We would be all sympathetic and would wish to help. This needs to be addressed. It is not addressed in any fashion in this amendment.'
Pressed on what should be done for women in this situation, Dr Keane said: 'I would be keen to see it addressed in this country. When they go abroad there is no post-mortem and our ability to counsel women in this situation about future pregnancies is not addressed.'
Dr Geary said: 'In principle such women should be looked after.'
Dr Daly said: 'I broadly agree. I would need to see the wording before I could agree to it. It can be very difficult to make a statement absolutely'