Irish PM says Catholic hospitals cannot opt out of abortions

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REUTERS/Max RossiIrish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar votes as Ireland holds a referendum on liberalizing its law on abortion, in Dublin, Ireland, May 25, 2018.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has stated that Catholic hospitals will have to perform abortions when the government implements new rules that will allow women to terminate their pregnancies.

Varadkar told the Irish Parliament that nurses, midwives and doctors would be allowed to opt out of performing abortions on conscience grounds, but the same exemptions will not apply to entire institutions.

According to the Irish Examiner, the prime minister made the statement in response to concerns raised by Mick Barry, a member of the political party Solidarity–People Before Profit.

The government is currently drafting a bill that will allow abortions up to 12 weeks, with exemptions for ‘extreme cases’ for pregnancies between 12 and 24 weeks.

Varadkar said that the proposal will be modeled after the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, which allows abortions in certain circumstances, but also gives individual medical practitioners the option to withdraw from performing the termination.

‘It will not, however, be possible for publicly-funded hospitals, no matter who their patron or owner is, to opt out of providing these necessary services which will be legal in this state once this legislation is passed by the Dáil and Seanad (senate),’ the prime minister said, as reported by BBC.

He said that individuals can refuse to perform abortions based on their consciences or religious convictions, but institutions will not be presented with the same option.

‘So, just as is the case now in the legislation for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, hospitals like for example Holles Street, which is a Catholic voluntary ethos hospital, the Mater, St Vincent’s and others will be required, and will be expected to, carry out any procedure that is legal in this state and that is the model we will follow,’ he added.

The draft comes after Irish citizens voted 2-1 in favor of repealing a constitutional amendment that banned abortions in the country.

Life News reported that the Irish National Association of GPs had voted to oppose some of the government’s proposals. The association has reportedly asked the prime minister for assurance that he will not make abortion a part of routine general practice.

A survey of 936 GPs in Ireland found that 68 percent said that they would not choose to become abortionists, according to Life Site News.

The Irish Pharmacy Union is also asking for exemptions for pharmacists who do not want to dispense abortion-inducing medication.



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