Generation 8th: "We don't know how big the iceberg is" claims Dr. Maeve Eogan
Dr. Maeve Eogan on the trauma that faces women she encounters every day, a trauma exacerbated by the 8th Amendment.
Medical Director at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, Dr. Maeve Eogan has spoken to JOE about the difficulties and the hopelessness faced by women every day as a direct result of the 8th Amendment.
Dr. Eogan feels that it is easy for people in comfortable circumstances to make decisions based purely on their own lives, but there's an entirely different reality out there for many of the women she treats.
“How we often describe it is we know we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg within the sexual assault treatment units; what we don’t know is exactly how big the iceberg is.
“People being raped repeatedly in relationships, up to seven or eight times a month. No amount of emergency contraception is going to prevent somebody getting pregnant in that context.
“If somebody is a victim of rape and finds themselves pregnant and they’ve decided they want to end the pregnancy, unless they have a condition which places their life at risk in a real and substantive way – and that would include a risk of suicide – that patient cannot end their pregnancy.
“So that group of patients are represented in the women every year, up to 5,000 women, who either travel to another jurisdiction to end their pregnancy or women who access medications online.”
If a victim of rape doesn’t receive emergency contraception within 120 hours she can not receive help stopping a pregnancy unless her life is deemed to be at risk.
“And there are people who just can’t leave,” insists Dr. Eogan, “who either don’t have the legal ability to leave in terms of passport or indeed don’t have the financial ability to leave.
“And then they either do nothing or they access medications online, which are potentially unsafe, may not be what they’re purported to be and are designed to be delivered by a healthcare professional and with healthcare support.
“It’s very easy for us in our little bubbles of happiness and supported relationships to make decisions that we think would be appropriate for people at a time of huge crisis, but that’s not the reality of how it is.”