About 20 women sought to abort their unborn babies on the first day of legalized abortion in Ireland, the nation’s health service said this week.
Abortions became legal on Jan. 1 in Ireland, despite medical leaders’ continuous warnings that hospitals are not ready and women’s lives could be put in danger.
Buzz Ireland reports about 20 women called the new government hotline for abortions on the first day. Health officials said women who were near the 12-week cutoff immediately were scheduled for same-day appointments.
No unborn babies have been aborted yet, though. The law requires a three-day waiting period between the first appointment and the abortion. This period gives women time to consider the risks and alternatives to abortion before going through with it.
Health officials told the Irish Examiner that the hotline was not busy, but it has received a “steady stream of calls” since New Year’s Day. They said women who called were estimated to be about four weeks pregnant or later.
More complete data is expected after the end of the month.
The law, which was rammed through parliament in December, allows abortions for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months in a wide variety of circumstances. It also forces taxpayers to pay for abortions and forces Catholic hospitals to provide them. The new law 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.
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But even doctors who support abortion have expressed major concerns about abortion being legalized so quickly in Ireland.
Leading medical professionals have said the premature start date could put women’s lives at risk, and many hospitals have said they are not ready. They point to a lack of ultrasound machines, blood testing materials, clinical guidelines and trained staff as reasons for delay, but pro-abortion political leaders refused to back down.
Fewer than half of all the maternity hospitals in Ireland are doing abortions, though eventually all will be required to, according to the BBC.
Dr. Maitiu O’Tuathail, president of the National Association of General Practitioners, told the BBC that doctors have serious concerns about abortions being legalized so quickly.
“There remains a lot of uncertainty for GPs around the provision of abortion services in Ireland,” he said. “GPs are being asked to operate without updated Medical Council guidelines, which is problematic. The access to ultrasonography is patchy across the country and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”
O’Tuathail said government leaders should have resolved these problems before making abortions legal.
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the masters of the three Dublin maternity hospitals also voiced major concerns and called the Jan. 1 state-date “unrealistic,” according to the report.
These mounting concerns suggest that pro-abortion political leaders’ real goals are not to protect women’s health but to legalize the killing of unborn babies.
However, the pro-abortion site SheMazing passed off the concerns as “minor teething issues,” and pro-abortion Health Minister Simon Harris downplayed them as well.
“The level of preparedness varies, but the initial experience with the HSE’s helpline has been very positive,” he said.
Just how many unborn babies may be killed in Ireland annually is uncertain, but about 3,000 Irish women travel to England or Wales every year for abortions, according to government statistics. The fact that Ireland offers free, taxpayer-funded abortions could push that number even higher.
For decades, Ireland was a pro-life nation that protected every human life from conception to natural death. It also was a strong protector of women, with some of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.
But in May, voters stripped away all rights for unborn babies by repealing the country’s pro-life Eighth Amendment.
Polls indicate a strong majority of Irish voters do not support the new law. An October poll by Amárach found that 60 percent of Irish residents oppose taxpayer-funded abortions. In addition, a full 80 percent say health care workers should not be forced to carry out abortions against their conscience.