Ireland is Forcing Nurses and Midwives to Participate in Abortions

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 27, 2018   |   11:48AM   |   Dublin, Ireland

The new abortion legislation in Ireland is anything but pro-choice.

On Tuesday, at least 350 registered nurses and midwives in Ireland submitted a petition to Health Minister Simon Harris asking not to be forced to help abort unborn babies. Their voices join hundreds of Irish doctors who also are asking politicians to provide better conscience protections for medical workers.

Ireland voted to repeal its pro-life Eighth Amendment in May, stripping away all protections for unborn babies. Now, the legislature is debating a radical pro-abortion bill that would legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances. It would force taxpayers to pay for abortions and force Catholic hospitals to provide them. The bill also strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals.

Nurses and midwives asked for a meeting with the health minister to discuss their concerns, according to the Evening Echo. But Harris, the author of the pro-abortion bill, has not responded, Nurses for Life spokeswoman Mary Kelly said.

“Well they did say conscientious objection was possible, but how that is operated, I mean our line managers would have to know in advance as to our positions,” Kelly said. “… We are not quite sure as to the degree to which our freedom of conscience would be protected.”

The Nurses for Life petition pointed to two Scottish midwives, Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, who were forced to quit their jobs earlier this year because they refused to help abort unborn babies. They fear a similar crisis in Ireland if the pro-abortion bill passes as-is.

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“For us as nurses and midwives participation in termination of pregnancy … which is intended to end the life of a foetus, is morally objectionable and conflicts with our conscientious commitment to life,” the petition reads. “… We do not want to be discriminated against by our employers or victimised as employees if we exercise our right to freedom of conscience.”

They said Harris has not made any effort to listen to their concerns.

Doctors for Freedom of Conscience also have been asking Irish leaders to add more conscience protections on behalf of hundreds of Irish doctors, according to the BBC.

A recent survey suggests that 900 pro-life doctors could be forced to participate in unborn babies’ abortion deaths against their will. This does not include nurses or midwives who also object to abortion.

The survey from the Irish College of General Practitioners found that about 25 percent of its 3,500 members would prefer not to refer a woman to another doctor for an abortion, according to the Irish Independent. An additional 43 percent said they would refuse to abort unborn babies themselves but they would refer a woman to another doctor who would.

There is wide public support for conscience protections as well. An October poll by Amárach found that a full 80 percent of Irish respondents say health care workers should not be forced to carry out abortions against their conscience. An additional 60 percent opposed taxpayer-funded abortions.

Pro-life institutions also are being threatened. The bill would force Catholic hospitals and pregnancy centers to promote or provide abortions against their consciences. In September, Harris confirmed that Catholic hospitals will be forced to abort unborn babies, saying, “… conscientious objection is for individuals, not institutions.”

Earlier in November, the Oireachtas Health Committee slammed down dozens of amendments to moderate the pro-abortion bill. First, it rejected a measure to protect unborn babies from discriminatory sex-selection abortions. Then, it voted down a ban on taxpayer-funded elective abortions. Later, it voted to force pro-life doctors to refer women for abortions, The Times reported.

The Dáil is slated to consider the bill this week.