Irish government signals intention to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortion

Physician recommends expansion of abortion services beyond designated facilities

Quoting an unnamed official of the Irish Department of Health, the Irish Independent has reported that the Irish government intends to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions under the new Irish abortion law.  The official is quoted as saying that the new law provides for conscientious objection for individuals, but the exemption ” does not apply to a hospital.”

The Irish Independent also reports that Dr. Kevin Walsh, a cardiologist at Mater Hospital, Dublin, has said that more hospitals should be designated to provide abortions, as he believes that the obstetric hospitals do not have the resources to manage women who are “pregnant and critically ill with heart disease.”   Abortions in such circumstances would be better provided in acute care hospitals, he said, “on an urgent planned basis rather than immediate emergency basis.”

One thought on “Irish government signals intention to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortion

  1. If the unnamed Department of Health official has correctly stated government policy, it appears that the Irish government has either changed its policy since the passage of the new law, or that, in passing the law, it engaged in a game of “bait and switch.” The government’s original draft of the abortion law included a provision stating, “No institution, organisation or third party shall refuse to provide a lawful termination of pregnancy to a woman on grounds of conscientious objection.” This generated protests from those concerned that this would compel denominational institutions to provide abortions, despite moral objections to the procedure. The passage was deleted in the bill the government presented to the Irish parliament, which made it appear that the government had decided against such coercion. Thus, the criticism of the Irish Catholic bishops on this point was muted, suggesting only the possibility of a conflict with “existing legal arrangements.”
    The recommendation by Dr. Walsh that abortion services should be provided in more hospitals would, if followed, increase the likelihood of conflicts of conscience occurring among health care workers.

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