An Irish Catholic bishop encouraged civil disobedience as parliament prepares to vote on a radical pro-abortion law that would force Catholic hospitals and medical workers to help abort unborn babies.
Bishop Kevin Doran told the Irish Independent this week that medical workers are right to “resist” the legislation, which is expected to pass this week.
“They will have to stick together because if they don’t they’ll be picked off individually,” Doran said. “But what we would be saying is that they as a substantial body [should] simply refuse to participate or to refer.”
The bill would legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances in Ireland. 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, and hundreds of doctors and nurses fear being forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs.
Last week, dozens of doctors stormed out of an emergency meeting about the legislation. They said political leaders have been ramming through the bill without consulting the medical community or giving it ample time to prepare.
Doran assured pro-life medical workers that they have the bishops’ support.
The bishops “absolutely support the right of doctors and nurses and midwives, not only not to perform abortions, but not to be required under the law to refer their patients,” he said. “Catholics have no obligation whatsoever to obey this law.”
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He made it clear that the bishops do not support civil disobedience in most cases, but the pro-abortion legislation is different.
“We would say the fundamental pre-supposition is that citizens should always obey a just law. But this is an unjust law and therefore it has no moral force,” he told the Independent.
He called on teachers, not just Catholic teachers in Catholic schools, “but people of integrity who believe absolutely that this is a human being” to reflect their beliefs in their teaching.
“They can’t just roll over and say ‘we’ll teach that it’s just a cluster of cells’ or ‘this is OK because the law says it is OK’. You would be calling on teachers to be consistent with the truth in their teaching.”
The Irish medical community has growing increasingly critical of the government’s pro-abortion plans. Even doctors who support abortion say leaders are ramming through the legislation at a dangerous speed that could put women in danger.
Last week, Professor Chris Fitzpatrick, former master of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, warned that the Jan. 1 start date for abortions is “dangerously unrealistic,” according to Newstalk. Fitzpatrick, who supports legalized abortion, said it poses “a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of women” because the government has pushed through the legislation with “inadequate planning and insufficient resources.”
Leading physicians with the Institute of Obstetricians and Gyaecologists also are voicing strong concerns about “risks to patient safety due to inadequate preparation,” The Irish Times reports. Members are calling for an emergency meeting to debate a motion that its doctors “cannot” begin aborting unborn babies Jan. 1, according to the report.