Continued restrictions at maternity hospitals are misogynistic and cruel

11 May 2021
By Elaine Murphy

Any change to the rules will be too late for thousands of women, but the suffering for pregnant women and their partners must end today.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that continued restrictions on partners at maternity hospitals are anything other than misogynistic and cruel, according to Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.

File photo of Holly Cairns TD

Deputy Cairns said:

“It is incomprehensible that women are still being denied the support of a partner as they attend scans and, in many cases, even during birth. Last night, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan confirmed there was “no good reason in public terms” that restrictions were continuing.

“This morning we heard that the numbers of covid patients in hospitals around the country had fallen to just 104. Meanwhile, there are just two hospitals with ten or more patients who have the virus. Despite this, women are still being told that their partners are some kind of optional extra when it comes to attending at hospitals for scans and labour.

“It is increasingly looking like pregnant women are just expected, by some within hospital management teams, to endure stressful appointments, like anomaly scans, alone. Even going through labour alone is not deemed too high a price for women to pay – despite there being no public health rationale for the infliction of that trauma.

“The HSE has been stating for weeks that visitor restrictions at maternity hospitals should be lifted. The CMO has now publicly stated there is no public health grounds for their continued existence. Despite this, hospitals continue to deny women the support of their partners throughout their pregnancy and during birth.

“It’s hard to avoid characterising this apparent determination to make women needlessly suffer as anything other than misogynistic and cruel. Having a baby should be a joyful experience and instead it is being turned into something distressing and stressful by these intransigent rules.

“We need to see a change on this. Today. Any change will be too late for thousands of women, but the suffering for pregnant women and their partners must end today.

“In December, the HSE reclassified birthing partners as an “essential accompanying person” for the 20 week-scan. They now need to urgently reclassify them as an essential accompanying person for the entire maternity journey.”

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