Psychiatrist criticises ‘impractical’ Creighton amendments

Doctor says he is amazed by number of politicians who seem to hold a vast understanding of suicide, pregnancy, and the risks

A psychiatrist has rejected as impractical and unrealistic amendments to the abortion Bill tabled by Minister of State Lucinda Creighton.

Ms Creighton has suggested changes to provide for a speedy assessment of whether a woman was suicidal, dialectical behaviour therapy, a twice a week evaluation and a care team meeting once every two weeks to assess the patient’s stability.

Dr Anthony McCarthy of Holles Street maternity hospital described Ms Creighton’s proposed amendments as “extraordinary”.

He said it was “totally impractical” to expect psychiatrists to complete assessments within two hours and for social workers to complete a psycho-social assessment within twenty-four hours especially as “some emergency departments in the country do not have a liaison psychiatrist - full stop”.


The idea of having all these available psychiatrists and social workers across the country was “fantastic” and would be a great help to all patients, not just the suicidal, but was “totally unrealistic”, he said.

The Dáil will vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill tomorrow.

Dr Anthony McCarthy also said he was amazed at the number of politicians and obstetricians who seemed to now hold vast understanding of suicide, pregnancy, and the risks “as if they understand these issues and can then come up with proposals”.

Dr McCarthy also said he was surprised Ms Creighton had suggested the introduction of dialectical behaviour therapy into legislation when “most people have never heard of it”.

He said the suggestion of such a therapy shows misogyny and society’s “views of women” to be that of emotional instability because dialectical behaviour therapy was specific for those with an emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Dr McCarthy believes this suggests these women “are just unstable, not ill” and their emotions simply need to be “stabilised”.

In addition, Dr McCarthy believes these women will have no privacy as their issues will be discussed with a psychiatrist, obstetrician, general practitioner, social worker and their family.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland Dr McCarthy said he fully supported alternative treatments for those who are suicidal during pregnancy, as long as it was "not a compulsory alternative".

He added patients come to him because they do not want an abortion and they want help, whereas suicidal women who want an abortion “will just go to the UK”.

As a consequence Dr McCarthy believes the proposed legalisation will only apply to a minority but within that small number he believes the legislation is “reasonable”.