Medical professionals in an already understaffed healthcare system may quit if they are forced to help abort unborn babies, a letter warned Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith recently.
The letter came from 135 doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and other medical professionals who are concerned about the recent legalization of abortion in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Earlier this year, the country was forced to abandon its protections for unborn babies after the British government voted to force Northern Ireland to legalize abortion on demand. The country has not had a functioning government for about three years. Its political leaders had until October to re-form a government and reject the law. Pro-life lawmakers made several attempts to, but they did not succeed.
Now, the Northern Ireland Office is working on the legal framework for abortions, which are slated to become available across the country starting March 31, 2020, according to the report.
Many medical workers are concerned about a lack of conscience protections and the possibility of being forced to help abort unborn babies or lose their jobs.
“Many healthcare professionals entered their profession because they desired to protect and uphold life,” the medical workers wrote to Smith. “Consequently, many object to any involvement in abortion provision which by its very nature involves the ending of human life.”
They said conscience protections must extend beyond just helping with the actual abortion.
“Performing such tasks may be key to an abortion taking place and could lead to the professional in question feeling they are complicit in something they believe to be deeply wrong,” they explained.
They said the health system in Northern Ireland already is struggling to find enough staff. Without full conscience protections, they said it could become even worse, because some medical workers would quit rather than abort an unborn baby.
“If this measure goes ahead as proposed in the consultation document, an additional barrier will be put up for staff who for understandable reasons conscientiously object to abortion,” they wrote. “It may be the case that some excellent healthcare professionals, who have given their lives to helping patients, feel they have no choice but to leave the profession they love if they are mandated to act in a way which is contrary to their conscience.”
They told Smith that they cannot remain silent on the matter; lives and livelihoods are at stake.
“The value of life, the need to celebrate and accommodate conscientious objection, and the protection of the integrity of our democracy is too precious for us to remain silent,” they wrote.
The Northern Ireland medical community has been speaking out strongly against abortion. In October, 911 medical professionals signed a letter in opposition to legalized abortion in their country, the Independent reported at the time. Initiated by Northern Ireland GP Andrew Cupples, the letter urged the government to protect unborn babies’ rights as well as the rights of medical professionals to practice their beliefs.
However, abortion activists with Amnesty International and the British Pregnancy Advisory Services, an abortion chain, both argued for limiting conscience protections to the actual abortion. Under their proposals, medical workers still could be forced to refer women for abortions and help with the treatment before and after the abortion procedure.
Though abortions are now legal, no physical locations are providing them yet in Northern Ireland. According to the report, the British mandate requires Northern Ireland to begin providing abortions by March 31 in state hospitals. In the mean time, taxpayers in England will be forced to pay for women from Northern Ireland to travel there for abortions.
Northern Ireland was one of the last bastions of safety for unborn babies in Europe after abortion activists pushed Ireland to repeal its pro-life constitutional amendment in 2018. There, medical professionals also fear being forced to give up their livelihoods or help abort unborn babies. Guidelines from the Irish Medical Council introduced in August tell doctors that they must either abort unborn babies themselves or refer women to someone who will.