The Irish Times

Daly appeals to Dáil to enact Bill relating to maternal deaths

- MARIE O’HALLORAN

The Dáil yesterday heard an emotional appeal for the Government to enact legislatio­n to ensure that inquests are automatica­lly held into the deaths of women who die in pregnancy or up to six weeks after childbirth.

Independen­t TD Clare Daly said it was an “urgent matter that we enact this into law in the lifetime of this Government”. A 2007 Bill to reform the coroners’ court legislatio­n has not yet been introduced.

Ms Daly became upset during her speech as she introduced her private members’ Coroners Bill. She said much was said about Ireland “being one of the safest countries in the world in which to give birth, but in the absence of accurate statistics, it is a groundless assertion”.

In 2007, two obstetric consultant­s had highlighte­d that “maternity mortality statistics were underrepor­ted, suffered from poor validation methods and were not reliable”.

Members and supporters of the families of women who died during childbirth and had to campaign for inquests into their deaths, some unsuccessf­ully, were in the public gallery for the debate.

‘We miss our mum’

She said the Bill was “simply about triggering an automatic inquest into a maternal death, which is a death during or following pregnancy up to six weeks postpartum for any hospital or maternal care unit or other location where women are under the care of an obstetrici­an or midwife”.

Ms Daly became emotional as she read from a letter written to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar by children of Sally Rowlette, whose family had to campaign for an inquest: “We miss our mum so much every day. Can you please make sure this will never happen to any other mum again and make our hospitals safe?”

Ms Daly listed the names of eight women who died in childbirth where public inquests “eventually ruled that medical misadventu­re was the cause of death for healthy, pregnant young women”.

“We know from inquests into the deaths of these eight women that vital informatio­n was withheld and they were often not privy to the internal investigat­ions and reports until the HSE was ordered to produce them by coroners in public hearings,” she said.

The Maternal Death Enquiry team this week revealed a total of 27 maternal deaths occurred in 2011-2013, she said. “Of those deaths, seven were classified from direct causes, and of those only three had inquests.”

The only way “to get transparen­cy is through accountabi­lity with public inquests so that families get answers, but also to enforce genuine accountabi­lity on behalf of the HSE”, she said.

Minister of State Simon Harris said the Government would not oppose the Bill as Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald “very much appreciate­s the intention” behind the Bill but would make substantia­l amendments.

 ??  ?? Clare Daly: called for urgent enactment of Coroners Bill into law
Clare Daly: called for urgent enactment of Coroners Bill into law

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