Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD will introduce his party’s Bill to end restrictions around maternity care in the Dáil today at approximately 1pm, to coincide with the #BetterMaternityCare March which will take place outside the Dáil.
Speaking in advance of the formal introduction of the Maternity Care (Covid-19) Bill 2021, Deputy Tóibín said: “The restrictions around maternity services are cruel and inhumane. Recently we’ve seen government ministers express criticism of the restrictions while suggesting that there is nothing further the Health Minister can do and that the power lays with individual hospitals. Any suggestion that the Minister cannot do more on this issue is grossly misleading. Aontú are now offering the government a chance to tackle this issue by way of legislation – Aontú’s Bill, if passed, will ensure that mothers receiving maternity care may be accompanied in hospital during childbirth and on occasions prior and subsequent to the birth by a partner of their choosing”.
Deputy Tóibín continued: “Last year a number of emails were released to me by the Department of Health under Freedom of Information. These were a selection of emails sent to the Minister from women who had experienced pregnancy during the pandemic, and they are heartbreaking emails.
One woman recounted her experience in an email to the Minister; “I had to sit in a room alone to be told that my baby had died. I was sent from this room alone reeling from what I had just heard to sit on a busy ward corridor sobbing alone. This is simply unacceptable. At no point was allowed to have my husband present to provide any sort of comfort”.
Other emails released under anonymity to Aontú under the Freedom of Information Act also revealed the distressing experiences of women under the restrictions. “It is absolutely infuriating to think I can go for a drink in a pub with my partner, go to a friends house with my partner for a visit, go to mass with my partner, even travel abroad to another country with my partner and both continue to go to work but I cannot have my partner with me when I give birth, arguably during one of the most frightening experiences I’ll have to date,” one woman wrote.
And another said: “I myself am currently receiving fertility treatment having had two failed pregnancies last year, one of which resulted in surgical intervention. I could not imagine what it would have been like going for my first scan without my husband when the monitor turned dark and the midwife told me there was no heartbeat. It is an unexpected and earth-shattering experience that no woman should have to go through alone and it is a scandal of our time that women are, as we speak, being forced to endure this.”
Deputy Tóibín added: “We would urge everyone who is concerned about this issue to contact their local TDs and ask them to support Aontú’s Bill and end these inhumane restrictions for once and for all. There is something deeply wrong with our system or policies if women are reporting ‘cold’ experiences of childbirth in our maternity hospitals. The voices of pregnant women must be listened to. I am hopeful that the government will support my Bill – I fail to understand how anyone who has read these distressing emails could possibly vote against my proposal.”