By Nancy Valko
I have always been proud of my Irish heritage so I was especially shocked when a voter referendum in Ireland in May 2018 overwhelmingly approved removing Ireland’s long-standing, constitutional protections for unborn babies and left the details up to the Irish government.
Before this, Ireland’s Eighth Amendment protected both unborn babies and their mothers equally as deserving a right to life. This made Ireland one of the safest places in the world for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies and with one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.
However, much of the campaign to legalize abortion focused on the “high numbers of women ordering abortion pills online or forced to travel to Britain for a termination.” As one supporter said, that “showed that abortion was already here, we are just trying to make it safe and regulated.”
Now the lower house of the Irish parliament has just passed a bill that, if subsequently passed by the upper house, would legalize abortion for any reason for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to six months for a wide variety of circumstances. The bill—the “Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill” —would also force taxpayers to pay for abortion and force even Catholic hospitals to provide them.
It also strictly limits conscience protections for medical professionals and forces them to refer for abortion. The lower house also rejected amendments to ban sex-selection abortions, parental consent for girls under 16 and requiring basic medical care for infants born alive after abortion.
Note that these radical developments occurred after the national vote in May.
A poll by Amárach taken in October found that 60% of Irish residents oppose taxpayer-funded abortions, 80% say health care workers should not be forced to carry out abortions against their conscience and 69% of those surveyed believe doctors should be obliged to give babies that survive the abortion procedure proper medical care rather than leaving the babies to die alone.
Perhaps critically, Facebook also banned outside ads as Ireland was voting on abortion, saying that “We feel the spirit of this approach is also consistent with the Irish electoral law that prohibits campaigns from accepting foreign donations,”
Doctors and Nurses push back
Although Irish government leaders want medical professionals ready to begin aborting unborn babies by January 1, 2019, the medical community is balking.
Doctors against abortion petitioned the government stating that “forcing a doctor to make a referral for an abortion against their conscience is simply wrong” and dozens of Irish doctors stormed out of an emergency meeting about abortion because they said their conscience rights protections were being ignored.
And almost 500 Irish nurses and midwives signed a petition to Health Minister Simon Harris urging him to protect freedom of conscience and support the amendments concerning conscience rights protections.
So far, Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, has ignored their requests.
However, the pro-abortion National Women’s Council of Ireland is urging the passage of the new abortion law as soon as possible “despite fears the existing bill does not go far enough to decriminalize abortion or prevent protests at abortion facilities”.
As a fellow pro-life nurse, I applaud Nurses and Midwives4Life Ireland who stated that:
“We are dedicated, hardworking nurses and midwives who care for patients from conception to natural death. We have a conscientious commitment to life which accords with the values inherent in Our Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. We respect and defend the dignity of every stage of human life and we have a responsibility to make every valid or reasonable effort to protect the life and health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.”
I also sent a message of support to the Facebook page of Nurses and Midwives4Life Ireland .
I also support Irish Doctors for Life and its Facebook page that states its “aim is to educate and support doctors, health care professionals and others who are concerned about the ethical questions relating to patient care and practitioner responsibility at all stages of life.”
I personally have seen the terrible destruction of some of our most basic medical ethics principles after abortion was legalized here in the US in 1973. This issue not only divided doctors and nurses but also eventually led to the increasing acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
We need to support all medical professionals throughout the world who work to care for and protect all human life.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Nancy’s blog and is reposted with permission.