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Dublin psychiatry professor: balance on abortion debate is "deplorable"

28 February 2017


Prof O'Keane dismissed the notion that there should be balance in the Irish abortion debate.

Veronica O’Keane, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, has criticised Ireland's pro-life laws, and claimed that abortion is not bad for a woman's mental health.

The 2017 World Congress on Women’s Mental Health is running from March 6th to 9th in the Royal Dublin Society, under the title “Rights, Resilience, Recovery”. According to the Irish TimesProf O'Keane said that Dublin was deliberately chosen as the location of the conference in order to push an abortion agenda: 

"When we bid for this conference in Tokyo two years ago our international colleagues were so shocked by the situation in Ireland, they were actually disbelieving of the fact that Irish women had to go abroad for abortions.

"Our colleagues were so shocked that they wanted to come to Dublin and make ‘Rights, Resilience and Recovery’ the theme for this World Congress on Women’s Mental Health. There is consensus that you can’t have good mental health in the absence of basic rights." 

Balance? 

When asked if anyone at the conference would agree that Ireland is right to ban abortion except in limited circumstances, she replied: "No. There is absolute unanimity in this. The International Association for Women’s Mental Health does not consider that abortion is bad for a woman’s mental health. I think the need for so-called balance in any discussion of the matter is deplorable. Why does 5 per cent of the population get 50 per cent of the representation? It is a very fringe view in society in general and in medicine as well."

The programme for the conference lists several presentations on abortion, including one from Ailbhe Smyth, convener of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Recent research suggests that Prof O'Keane's statements do not reflect the reality of the effects of abortion on women's mental health (see for example this prestigious paper).

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