Cork councillor hits out at plans to restrict homebirths to 30-minute range from hospital

The proposal has provoked much distress amongst families and advocates.
Cork councillor hits out at plans to restrict homebirths to 30-minute range from hospital

County Cllr Declan Hurley with his son Conan attending the protest against a proposed change to regulations around homebirth at national level, organised by Birthright Alliance, at Cork University Maternity Hospital. Pic: Larry Cummins

“WE think it is wrong. It is discrimination and it should be left as is. The choice should be left for families to make."

They are the words of Independent councillor Declan Hurley following a recent proposal from the HSE to limit homebirths nationally to women living within 30 minutes of a maternity unit.

The proposal has provoked much distress amongst families and advocates. 

Last Sunday large numbers of families and midwives from West Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Clare travelled to protest against the proposed HSE changes. 

They also renewed their appeals for access to the public service to remain unchanged for rural women.

Councillor Hurley, a former county mayor, whose son Conan was born at home said the choice should be there for all families. 

“A woman that is carrying a child should have the choice of having it at home or in a hospital. It is a personal choice, and it is not for everybody. There is always an element of risk attached when somebody has a homebirth but that is very minimal when you go through the assessment. 

"Women feel this is discrimination against them as it takes away their ability to choose whether they want a home birth or not. The choice should be there,” he said.

“It is disappointing the HSE are taking the stance they are,” said Cllr Hurley. 

“Home births aren’t for everybody but for the people who want it, they should be looked after. 

"I found the whole home birth experience so relaxed. We had expert help the whole way through. We felt safe and confident.

“We would assume it is being changed on health and safety grounds, but we had gone through all the tests. We also had the midwife with us all the way.

" The assessment is there beforehand and if you don’t tick all the boxes, they won’t allow you to have a home birth. It worked out very well for us. Conan is two and a half now and he is as healthy as a stone. We would do it all again in a heartbeat,” added Mr Hurley.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West Christopher O’Sullivan said the recent protests against the proposed introduction of restrictions on homebirths demonstrates the importance of choice for women nationwide.

'LOUD MESSAGE'

“The extraordinary turnout at the protest demonstrates the importance of choice for the women right across Ireland. The proposals would essentially rule out the option of a safe home birth for almost all of West Cork.” 

Deputy O’Sullivan said the large attendance has sent a ‘loud’ message to the HSE. “Last weekend the people of Cork and beyond sent a loud message to the HSE, that the women of Ireland deserve to have a choice when it comes to safe birthing option.

“They are sick and tired of being told what they can and can’t do,” he added.

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