One Irish maternity hospital plans to begin killing unborn babies in what it calls “compassionate” abortions starting Jan. 1, 2019.
Dr. Rhona Mahony, master of the National Maternity Hospital, said her facility will be ready to begin abortions by the government’s Jan. 1 deadline, Irish news outlets reported Wednesday.
Many other Irish hospitals have said they are nowhere near ready to meet the start-date, and forcing them to begin abortions in three weeks could put women’s lives at risk. What’s more, parliament has not even passed the bill to legalize abortion yet.
Mahony’s Holles Street hospital is the exception.
Women whose unborn babies have fatal abnormalities will be able to get abortions from January at the National Maternity Hospital.
The hospital’s master, Dr Rhona Mahony, made the pledge as it emerged that some maternity hospitals and GPs will not be ready to begin the extension of abortions services from that date.
A spokesman for Dr Mahony, who is stepping down from her position as master of Holles Street in January, said staff are “working to ensure we have a full, safe and compassionate service in place as quickly as possible”.
The spokesman added: “Notwithstanding the outstanding logistical issues, we expect to provide termination of pregnancy in situations of fatal foetal anomaly from January 1.”
Her comments suggest that the hospital will abort unborn babies all the way up to six months of pregnancy, as the legislation allows.
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.
Many Irish hospitals and medical groups have said they are not ready to meet the government’s start date.
Her Ireland reports the Coombe and Rotunda hospitals said they will not be ready to begin abortions Jan. 1, and the Irish Family Planning Association said it will not even announce a start-date for abortions yet. All hospitals in Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said they are not ready either, according to the Irish Times. Cork University Maternity Hospital also expressed concerns about the government’s timeline.
Their concerns include that there are not enough ultrasound machines, no clinical guidelines and not enough trained staff to begin abortions.
Earlier this week, Dr. Sharon Sheehan, who runs Coombe Hospital, one of the largest maternity hospitals in Ireland, urged Minister for Health Simon Harris to put off the start date until February or March, RTE reports.
And 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.
Other medical professionals are afraid of losing their jobs. Hundreds of Irish doctors, nurses and midwives have pleaded with the government for better conscience protections, but, by and large, their concerns have been ignored.
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