Ireland May Not Start Aborting Babies in January as Doctors Refuse, Hospitals Not Ready

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 11, 2018   |   4:14PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

A massive outcry by Irish doctors and hospitals has government leaders backtracking on their demand that all hospitals start aborting unborn babies on Jan. 1 in Ireland.

Major hospitals have said they are nowhere near ready, and forcing them to begin abortions in three weeks could put women’s lives at risk.

Pro-abortion politicians have not delayed the start date, but this week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar did admit that some hospitals will not be ready within their timeline, The Herald reports.

“It may not be available in every single hospital and every single place, but the service will be available,” Varadkar insisted. “It will have to be rolled out, it will have to be phased in, but we’re confident [it] will be available in January.”

The bill, which is being debated in the Seanad (upper house of parliament), 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. Health Minister Simon Harris wants hospitals to be ready to abort unborn babies by Jan. 1, 2019.

Some of the country’s largest hospitals and medical groups have pushed back against the start date, saying there are not enough ultrasound machines, no clinical guidelines and not enough trained staff to begin abortions.

The Herald reports more:

Over the weekend, Dr John O’Brien, the president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, cautioned against pushing out the service from January 1.

He said if the proper supports are not finalised by then, “a high quality, patient-centred service is jeopardised and patient care will be compromised”.

Separately, the master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony, has also questioned the timeline.

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She told RTE Radio that while some services may be available, it would be a “big ask” for the entire service to be rolled out by January.

Dr. Sharon Sheehan, who runs Coombe Hospital in Dublin, one of the largest maternity hospitals in Ireland, said they are not ready. Sheehan urged Harris to put off the start date until February or March, RTE reports.

“In my opinion the country is not ready, and therefore the Coombe is not in a position to deliver these services from the 1st of January,” Sheehan said.

All hospitals in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said they are not ready either, according to the Irish Times. The National Maternity Hospital and Cork University Maternity Hospital also expressed concerns about the government’s timeline, the report states.

Meanwhile, government leaders continue to move forward with their plan. They are setting up a hotline that women can call to find a doctor who will abort her unborn baby. The list of abortion doctors will not be made public, but women who call the hotline will be directed to one in her area, according to the report.

The government plans to spend tax dollars advertising abortions as well. These ads will appear on posters in medical facilities, online, on the radio and in bus shelters, according to the report.

Earlier this month, 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.

Hundreds of Irish doctors, nurses and midwives also have pleaded with the government for better conscience protections, but, by and large, their concerns have been ignored.