Seanad debates

Friday, 16 October 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Annie Hoey (Labour)

I rise to speak about maternity care in the time of Covid. Senator O'Loughlin has already spoken about this. Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I am sure Members will join me in thinking of those who have suffered a miscarriage, are waiting for their rainbow baby, have suffered infant loss, are struggling with their fertility, have suffered a stillbirth or are still yearning to be parents. We have all heard on the news, from friends and from constituents about the ongoing issue of lack of access for partners of pregnant people in maternity care. At their appointments, pregnant people receive a range of different kinds of news, from the most joyous to the most concerning, and in some cases even the most tragic news an expectant parent can receive. They are doing so, in the main, entirely alone. This is not just the case on labour wards but in GP offices, consultation rooms and hospitals. As it currently stands, the partner of an expectant parent can go to a pub, café, restaurant, park, gym, salon or bookies with others from outside their family but cannot accompany their partner to a labour ward, consultant's appointment or operating theatre. A friend contacted me saying she had an emergency caesarean section quite recently and she lay on the bed soiled because her partner was not there and the nurses were so rushed off their feet that they could not help her. It is not acceptable in this day and age that we have pregnant people in that situation before or after delivery.

This has been raised across the national airwaves, in this House, in the lower House, and by my colleague Deputy Duncan Smith on the Covid committee and thus far there has been virtual silence from the Government on the matter. It is the position of the Labour Party that there must be compassion in care even during Covid. In fact, there has never been a time when compassion in care was more needed. I ask the Leader of the House, Senator Doherty, who did so much to campaign for compassionate access to abortion care alongside those of us in Together for Yes, to request that the Minister for Health come into the Chamber to listen to the concerns of pregnant people, their partners and families regarding maternity care in Ireland.


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