Dr Boylan: Savita Would Have Survived


From top: Dr Peter Boylan and Dr Meabh Ní Bhuinneain at Leinster House for the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Committee meeting yesterday; Dr Boylan at Newstalk this morning

This morning.

On The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and former master of the National Maternity Hospital, was interviewed.

It followed a vote last night by the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment to remove the 8th amendment from the constitution.

It was the first vote taken by the committee – with 15 members voting Yes, three voting No and two members, Fianna Fail’s James Browne and Anne Rabbitte, abstaining.

Professor Boylan also addressed the committee yesterday evening.

Towards the end of the Newstalk interview, Mr Kenny read out some texts that came into the show.

‘A mother’s life is in danger: I was that mother, 27 years ago. At 24 weeks’ gestation, my blood pressure went through the roof. I had pre-eclampsia and toxaemia. My consultant contacted my husband and said he had to do a C-section and his exact words were ‘otherwise, we will lose your wife’. Unfortunately our little baby died.

Boylan: “Yes, and that’s exactly what happens. We would deliver a baby at 24 weeks and a full panoply of intensive care from the neonatal team would be instituted and I, all of us, practicing obstetricians, have experience with that sort of situation. That’s not a termination of pregnancy…”

Kenny: “Yeah, I was just going to say, that would actually be permitted, presumably, under the 8th amendment because there’s a distinct risk to the life of the mother and both will die, therefore, you make the choice to save one.”

Boylan: “But you’re also…no, not a choice to save one. You save the mother and, in the course of delivering a baby at 24 weeks, you make every effort to save that baby also and, nowadays, viability is regarded as 24 weeks in this country. So, that’s the situation.”

Kenny: “This one: ‘Peter Boylan is an ardent abortion campaigner. He fails to mention that the law in Ireland changed after Savita. The 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act gave absolute clarity to doctors that they can intervene to save the life of a pregnant woman, even at the cost of the life of the baby’.”

Boylan: “Well, the problem with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is that there’s no guidance as to how sick a woman has to be and also the woman doesn’t have any input into that decision. We discuss everything with her obviously but, it’s, she can’t say ‘look I’m worried that I’m going to die’ and we say, ‘no, actually, you’re not really at risk of death, yet. When you get to be at risk of death, then we will intervene.’ Now that’s a highly unsatisfactory way to practice medicine.”

Kenny: “The law says that you have to wait until, in your judgement, there is…”

Boylan: “And if we get the judgement wrong, either the mother dies or we’ve committed a criminal offence in this country. That’s unfortunately the reality.”

Kenny: “So not only do you want the 8th repealed but you also want the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act changed?”

Boylan: “Well, if proper legislation is introduced then the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act would be just part of that legislation and we would be able to intervene, continue to intervene, but also for other reasons as the Citizens’ Assembly suggested.”

Kenny: “‘Professor Boylan has no advantage. Everybody knows Savita died of septicaemia via E.coli. Can Mr Boylan explain in detail how an abortion would have saved her?'”

Boylan: “She did die of sepsis and there’s no question that there were deficiencies in her care, I’ve never denied that, I’ve never tried to say that was not the case. Of course she died of septicaemia, she wouldn’t have got septicaemia if her uterus was empty and any practicing doctor knows that and anybody who claims otherwise is really not telling the truth.”

Kenny: “This one, Martin. ‘The 2013 legislation dealt with the Savita-type cases already, nothing to do with the 8th amendment.'”

Boylan: “Well, I mean anybody who has, any doctor who has read her chart, myself and [Sabaratnam] Arulkumaran, an internationally respected expert, have come to a different conclusion and the conclusion is, if she had had a termination of pregnancy, we wouldn’t even know her name, we wouldn’t know anything about her, she would be down in Galway, probably with a young family.”

Kenny: “‘Ask the professor, does he accept the figure of 100,000 lives saved by the 8th amendment.'”

Boylan: “No, I don’t. If we didn’t have easy access to termination of pregnancy in the UK, we would probably have an awful lot of maternal deaths and we would not have had any saving of any lives, at all.”

Kenny: “The committee you said was attentive yesterday but we know there was at least, there was, there were three people who voted against but two people in particular have been outspoken in their unhappiness with the committee and that’s Senator Ronan Mullen and Mattie McGrath TD. Do you anticipate that this will become as divisive and bitter as some of the previous campaigns have been?”

Boylan: “I think as the tide turns and as people see the logic and the reasonableness of repealing the 8th amendment and introducing legislation in this country, I think it probably will get quite nasty.”

Listen back in full here [Part 1]

Previously: Illegal Abortion In Ireland

43 thoughts on “Dr Boylan: Savita Would Have Survived

  1. Milo

    I’m never comfortable with how Savita is used by people to make a point about abortion when two investigations said an abortion would not have made a difference. Boylan should either accept the findings of the investigations or challenge them. He hasn’t challenged them, but yet contradicts them. Fair enough opinion for a pro-choice lay person, but a doctor should be more responsible.

    1. phil

      How can we make you more comfortable milo? I agree its a real tragedy that you are uncomfortable, is there anything else that might make you uncomfortable, that we might be able to address ?

      Would it help if I suggested to you that medical procedures between a doctor and a patient are none of yours or my business? If you every happen to be in a serious medical crisis, I promise not to be nosy….

      Does that help ?

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      Do you know who comfortable either?


      Because she’s dead. But, y’know, your discomfort is far more important than her death.

    3. Barry the Hatchet

      The investigations categorically did not find that “an abortion would not have made a difference”. That is entirely incorrect.

    4. Milo

      The cognitive bias is strong on this one. This is the kind of defensive nonsense that annoys people. I know you dont give a fupp about annoying people, but if you are in the business of changing minds and persuading people, arrogance and unprofessional behaviour doesn’t help.

      The investigations did not categorically find that an abortion would save her life. It is irresponsible of Boylan to contradict the findings without challenging them. No matter what side of the argument you are on. Just because you agree with his cause doesn’t mean you have to agree with his modus operandi, which in my opinion is unprofessional.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Having a cervix kept open for 3 days while she miscarried is unprofessional and barbaric. We literally wouldn’t treat a dog the way we treat pregnant women in this country.

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            The cervix would have closed up had the dying foetus been removed when requested, rather than waiting 3 agonising days for the foetal heartbeat to stop before removal.

            Because of the 8th amendment, an unviable foetus was prioritised over the vessel carrying it and as a result, the vessel died a horrible death.

          2. Milo

            Now you’re just straying into opinion. Which is fine for you, because ultimately your opinion doesn’t really affect anyone. But when a Doctor choses to put his own personal beliefs into his medical opinions, then we are into shady ground, because his opinion does affect people.

          3. Daisy Chainsaw

            So, Dr Milo ObGyn, can you tell me why she was left miscarrying a dying, unviable foetus for 3 days whilst it still had a heartbeat and catching a fatal infection as it happened, instead of having the pregnancy terminated when first requested?

          4. Milo

            Im not a Doctor Daisy. So it would be unwise of me to give an opinion. Just like its unwise of medical personnel allow their personal feelings affect their medical advice.

          5. ahjayzis

            I’m not a Doctor Daisy. So it would be unwise of me to give an opinion. Just like its unwise of medical personnel allow their personal feelings affect their medical advice.

            Can we all just ignore the Troll for once?

            I’m not a doctor – my opinion doesn’t matter.
            He’s a doctor – his opinion is irrelevant.

            Wake up and smell the mouldy walls of his bedroom in his parents basement, guys!

      2. Barry the Hatchet

        Milo, don’t be a melon. YOU said “two investigations said an abortion would not have made a difference” and that is an utter falsehood. You should withdraw your statement.

        Secondly, Peter Boylan is not contradicting Prof Arulkumaran’s findings. Prof Arulkumaran has said before an Oireachtas committee, “She did have sepsis. However, if she had a termination in the first days as requested, she would not have had sepsis. If she had the termination when asked for it, the sepsis would not arise.” “We would never have heard of her and she would be alive today,”. That is the point Peter Boylan was making. How much clearer do you want the position to be?

        1. Andy

          Is the logical extension of that argument that every single pregnancy should be aborted to avoid the potential for sepsis?

          As a pro choice person I find both sides in this debate highly disingenuous and prone to peddling falsehoods or half truths.

  2. Daisy Chainsaw

    On discovering conception has taken place, regardless of age or circumstance, the female carrier is reduced to status of vessel. Her needs are rendered secondary because the constitution has given “equal” rights to an embro. It gets a chance to develop as the vessel’s health deteriorates in the name of equality. And if she dies? God’s will (shrug).

    Can you imagine the uproar if a doctor said to a man or a child who was seriously ill that their illness wasn’t serious enough to treat yet. That their tumour only has a 10% chance of killing them, but under a rule in the constitution they have to wait until the percentages tipped over the 50% mark before treatment will be sanctioned?

    1. Annek

      This is something that became crystal clear to me today. I visited my doctor for a smear test and informed her myself and my partner were planning to start trying for a child. When I returned for the results I was told that the result had come back showing problems and I was being referred to Holles Street for a procedure. This was deemed very important to ensure I don’t end up with cervical cancer. The doctor told me under no circumstances to get pregnant as if I did these current treatments they’re telling me are necessary wouldnt be carried out. Right now I am a woman in need of treatment but I had gotten pregnant before getting the smear results I’d be a thing carrying a baby, not entitled to the medical treatment I need. It’s horrific.

    2. ahjayzis

      If someone was forced to donate an organ, unwillingly, to save the life of another person, we’d be up in arms.

      But pregnant women are demoted to 49% ownership of their own body at conception, another 49% for the zygote, and the casting vote to a court of law. It’s disgusting.

  3. newsjustin

    An abortion could well have saved the life of Savita. I think that’s quite likely.

    But the point is, the 8th Amendment did not prevent doctors (and does not prevent them) from carrying out an abortion to save her. The facts are that her case was badly mismanaged. Her doctors failed to see that she was gravely ill and failed to act (entirely within the law) to end the pregnancy.

    Some want to use this set of circumstances to claim that the 8th Amendment killed Savita when it did no such thing.

    Let’s not even mention that Savita’s family have explicitly asked for her name and case not to be used to further the pro-abortion agenda in Ireland.

    1. Milo

      Let’s not even mention that Savita’s family have explicitly asked for her name and case not to be used to further the pro-abortion agenda in Ireland.


    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      She was left miscarrying for days because there was still a foetal heartbeat and the “equal right to life of the unborn” had to be vindicated under 40.3.3. Miscarrying for days left her cervix open which allowed infection to take hold and kill her. Had the unviable foetus been removed when originally requested (which is standard practice in civilised countries that don’t treat pregnant women like tupperware bowls), the likelyhood is Savita wouldn’t be dead.

      Can you provide a link to any statement from Savita and Praveen’s families regarding them not wanting her name used?

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          Youth Defence smearing their own offices and re-hanging articles a week after they had been sellotaped to the shutters by pro choice protesters. Did YD use their own excrement or order in?

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            If I had an edit button I could have added, of course Praveen wouldn’t want his wife’s name dragged into such a disgusting and debasing YD stunt.

  4. newsjustin

    It is not unusual for women and couples planning on getting pregnant to be advised not to get pregnant due to risks from a particular illness or the treatment for the illness on the women or her baby.

    This is exactly what happened my own partner (different illness). The advice assumes that you want a successful, uncomplicated pregnancy and would, naturally, be upset at the loss of or damage to your unborn baby.

    It’s good advice. An alternative scenario would be: “Work away and see if you get pregnant. If you do, no big deal, we’ll abort that pregnancy, treat you and sure you can get pregnant again. Or maybe we’ll roll the dice and treat you without an abortion. What’s the worst that could happen?”

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      I don’t really understand the point you’re making here. There’s nothing wrong with advising women not to become pregnant while undergoing medical treatment, because it might pose an additional risk to their health or the treatment might pose a risk to the baby, which might cause the pregnancy to be unsuccessful or complicated.

      But that’s not at all what Annek said. She said very clearly “The doctor told me under no circumstances to get pregnant as if I did these current treatments they’re telling me are necessary wouldn’t be carried out.”

      If she became pregnant, the necessary treatments *wouldn’t be carried out*. The right to life of the unborn would take precedence over the pregnant woman’s right to healthcare.

  5. Daisy Chainsaw

    Per Ronan Mullen: “If there was abortion on demand Savita wouldn’t have been in the hospital because she wouldn’t have been pregnant”

    What an utterly repugnant fleshbag.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        On the back of this, I’ve just filled out a form for the Seanad electoral register to make sure he doesn’t get in next time.

  6. Zuppy International

    If all you Abortion Huggers got is one case of faked medical hysteria from 5 years ago then you ain’t got much.

  7. Catherinecostelloe

    Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when her waters broke and her 5 ounce foetus had zero chance of surviving.
    Its unkind to allow suffering, that why palliative cancer patients are put on morphine.
    If my dog was in same situation and I risked losing her and adding to her pain with blood poisoning I’d consider myself irresponsible by not calling the vet. Every ‘abortion’ is different. Rather an ugly word for poor Salvita……cessation of pregnancy is more apt. R.I.P sweet lady.

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