Ireland: Protect the Conscience of Medical Professionals

Do Not Force Doctors to Perform Abortions

 

Ireland: Protect the Conscience of Medical Professionals

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2,778 people have signed. Help us reach 5,000 signatures.

Ireland: Protect the Conscience of Medical Professionals

Since the Irish referendum on abortion, discussion is now focussed on the extent to which the state will force doctors to be involved in abortion procedures.

The state should make provision for robust conscience protections in law. These protections should

  1. Protect the right of the medical professional to conscientiously refuse to participate in abortion.
  2. Protect the right of the medical professional to conscientiously refuse to refer for abortions.
  3. Protect institutions with a fundamental objection to abortion, such as Catholic hospitals, from having to perform abortions, effectively shutting down the hospitals or forcing them to lose their religious character.

The Irish Taoiseach has already said that Catholic hospitals will have to perform abortions and that doctors will have to refer for abortions. This is a deeply authoritarian move and we should urge the Leo Varadkar to reconsider.

  • To make abortion part of the normal practice of medicine is to treat pregnancy as a disease, but of course pregnancy is not a disease in need to treatment. Making abortion a part of medical practice amounts to a substantive redefinition of medicine. No medical professional should be forced to participation in a procedure which does not form part of that profession.
  • To force medical professionals to participate in abortion is deeply authoritarian as it attempts to force them to violate their own conscience and moral integrity and is therefore a serious attack on the freedom of belief.

Please sign this email to Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, urging him to respect the consciences of medical professionals in Ireland.

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Protect the Conscience of Medical Professionals

For the attention of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar,

Dear Mr Varadkar,

I understand that since the referendum on the 8th Amendment, there has been much discussion about the degree to which doctors will be forced to participate in the abortion process – this includes not only the abortion procedure itself but also other actions such as referral for abortion.

I urge you to support robust conscience protection legislation which does not force doctors who object to abortion either to participate in abortion procedures or to refer for such procedures. Furthermore, this conscience protection legislation must apply to institutions as well. For example, to attempt to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions is to effectively close Catholic hospitals, or at least to force them to lose their Catholic status.

It would be a profound attack on the freedom of belief and freedom of conscience if the state were to force doctors to participate in abortion in any way or were to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. This would amount to a dangerous imposition of views on doctors and the medical profession, and is deeply illiberal.

As you know, the National Association of GPs (NAGP) passed a motion that the body should "advocate for conscientious objection, without obligation to refer". Some have suggested that a liberal compromise is in order whereby doctors opt-in to be involved in the abortion process.

It is, at best, a confusion to think that abortion forms part of the practice of medicine – to treat abortion as if it were any other medical practice amounts to a considerable redefinition of what medicine is. As a medic yourself, you will know that pregnancy is not a disease and hospitals and doctors should not be forced to act as if it were.

To force a doctor not only to violate his profession but also his own conscience is a gross overreach of the state. If a doctor recognises that abortion involves killing one of his patients (whom until very recently he was under a legal obligation to protect) then this doctor should not be expected to arrange for this killing to be undertaken by someone else. As this is precisely what referral involves, the state should not be forcing doctors to do so.

An opt-in system for doctors willing to participate in abortion, does not force those doctors who reject abortion to violate their own conscience by participating in abortion or risk losing their job. Whilst every abortion is a tragedy, this liberal compromise takes account of the moral integrity of all involved. An opt-in system with no obligation to refer for abortion, does not prevent those who wish to access abortion from doing so as it remains possible to ask for an appointment with another doctor who is willing to participate in abortion

I urge you to respect the consciences of those doctors who refuse to promote abortion.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Ireland: Protect the Conscience of Medical Professionals

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2,778 people have signed. Help us reach 5,000 signatures.