By Wesley J. Smith
Irish voters have instructed their government to legalize abortion.
That will undoubtedly happen. So will religious oppression.
Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach (prime minister), has announced that Catholic medical institutions will be forced by the government to perform abortions, assuming any public funding. From the BBC story (my emphasis):
“It will not . . . 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) . . .”
Mr Varadkar added: “That legislation will allow individuals to opt out based on their consciences or their religious convictions but will not allow institutions to do so.
“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.”
Time will tell whether religiously dissenting medical professionals will be forced to refer — meaning procure — a colleague to do the deed. Many will refuse believing it constitutes complicity in what they consider to be a grievous sin.
A constitutional legal fight over that very question is currently ongoing in Canada around euthanasia.
Forcing every institution that receives public funds to perform any legal medical service means that if Ireland legalizes euthanasia — under discussion post referendum — Catholic hospitals will be required to allow sick patients to be killed in their wards.
“Medical conscience” looks to become one of the most contentious civil-rights issues of the current era as secularists impose their values on the entire health-care system by transforming “mere legality” (my term) of controversial procedures into a positive right to receive them. Once “equitable and equal access” becomes legally guaranteed, the government must ensure accessibility to everyone.
Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the author’s permission.