I second. In order to see the need for the amendment it is necessary to look into Section 2, which says:—
... every person who attends a woman in childbirth shall, unless—
(a) such person is a midwife, or
(b) such person is a duly qualified medical practitioner, or
(c) such person being a person undergoing training with a view to becoming a duly qualified medical practitioner or a midwife gives such attention as part of a course of practical instruction in midwifery recognised by the Medical Registration Council or the Board. or
(d) such person satisfies the court that such attention was given in a case of sudden or urgent necessity and that a midwife was not immediately available.
That would be a defence, that there was necessity for it, and that no midwife was available. Senator O'Doherty's amendment provides, "and that within six hours of the time of birth one or other of the qualified persons described in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this sub-section was summoned to attend." Suppose there was a case of urgent necessity where an unqualified person attended the woman, that unqualified person would be subject to a penalty unless a qualified person was sent for in six hours. That is a very good provision. There are a number of ailments of after-birth that a qualified person would be able to guard against, both in the case of the woman and in the case of the child. It is, therefore, desirable that a qualified person should be summoned within six hours, or within such time as the Seanad considers proper, in order to provide for the care of the child and the mother. Another reason that I would like to bring before the Seanad is this. In our periodicals recently we have heard of the prevalence of a certain kind of crime in relation to poor little children, that is, concealment and murder. Senators have heard of it. It is said to be prevalent. I do not believe it is more prevalent now than ever, but it is probably a little more carefully looked after. I have this impression, that if there is an obligation on the wise woman—that is the woman who attends in the case of emergency—to send for the midwife or the nurse that is in every district, within six hours, there will not be time to do away with the child, or there will not be a disposition to do so, and that would be much better for the poor children in the circumstances that I have indicated. Senator O'Doherty, in his amendment, strikes very deeply into the medical side of the midwife's work, also into the social side, as well as into the legal aspect of the matter. It is a great protection to the mother, and it will be a great protection to the child. I believe, from my own experience, that it would prevent a number of the cases that unfortunately come before the courts, and that have been the occasion for sermons, denunciations, and articles in the public Press. If the Minister considers the amendment from that point of view I think he will accept it. In any case, I recommend it to the Seanad.