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Don't Demonise Dr Woods

Sunday Independent, 10 February 2002

On the day of the announcement of the Medical Council's verdict, I was horrified to see from the window of my 46A bus, a car bearing a large banner reading "Dr Moira Woods found guilty." It seems she made errors of judgment, no more, and while no-one should underestimate the trauma these may have caused to innocent parents, Dr Woods should not be demonised as if she had acted maliciously, vengefully or in a corrupt manner. As Stephen Dodd made clear in his article "Dr Woods damned by her own zeal" (Feb. 3) her actions arose from her overwhelming concern for children at a time when few organisations or individuals were helping them.

I was one of her patients in the 1980s and can personally testify to her dedication to the care of all her patients and to women and children in particular. She over-worked on behalf of raped women and abused children, on top of her general practice, also campaigning for contraceptive rights and against an abortion amendment which treated women as untrustworthy creatures whose wombs must be policed by the State.

Unlike recent cases where indifference, negligence or the self-interest of doctors caused terrible suffering, individuals who suffered as a result of Dr Woods's actions did so due to genuine error. This does not lessen the suffering, but should not cause a woman who worked selflessly to be treated as if she had committed a crime.

Carolyn Swift,
Dublin 4.