Despite years of claims, from politicians, media personalities, and NGOs, that pro-life protesters have been harassing and intimidating women attempting to access abortion services in Irish hospitals, an investigation by website Gript.ie has found that the available evidence suggests the claim is entirely untrue.
Gript contacted every Irish hospital that provides maternity services asking if a) any staff or patients had ever made a formal complaint to the hospital about pro-life protesters, and b) if there had ever been an incident at the hospital in which “pro-life protesters have impeded the ability of patients to access the hospital, or attempted to intimidate or harass patients?”
Gript received responses from 16 of the 19 relevant hospitals – none had ever received a formal complaint from any member of their staff or from patients regarding the protests, and none detailed any incident in which protesters had attempted to intimidate or harass patients.
University Maternity Hospital (UMH) in Limerick, who did not respond to Gript’s queries, previously told BreakingNews.ie’s David Raleigh, in December of last year, that they had never received complaints regarding pro-life protests from patients, their families or staff. They did however say they had received “third-party correspondence on this matter.”
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) listing of the busiest maternity services in Ireland the hospitals above, including both the hospitals who responded to queries and UMH Limerick, represent over 90% of Ireland’s maternity capacity.
The largest hospital who did not respond to queries, despite repeated attempts, was Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (OLOLH) in Drogheda. OLOLH is, according to the INMO, the 6th busiest maternity service in the country.
The hospitals who responded were: Cork University Maternity Hospital; South Tipperary General Hospital; Kerry General Hospital; University Hospital Waterford; St Luke’s General Hospital; Regional Hospital Mullingar; National Maternity Hospital; Wexford General Hospital; Rotunda; Sligo University Hospital; Letterkenny University Hospital; Galway University Hospital; Portiuncula University Hospital; Mayo University Hospital; Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise; Coombe Maternity Hospital.