Hilary White

Irish Catholic hospital not allowed to opt out of abortion requirement: government

Hilary White
Hilary White
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DUBLIN, August 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com)  – The Irish government has told a Catholic hospital that there will be no opting out of the new law legalizing abortion, and that requires hospitals to do the procedure. The health minister was responding to comments last week by a board member of Dublin’s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital that the hospital would not be complying with the new abortion law.

Mater Hospital is one of the 25 institutions named in the so-called “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” where abortions must be carried out. Fr. Kevin Doran, a board member of Mater said, “The issue is broader than just abortion. What’s happening is the Minister is saying hospitals are not entitled to have an ethos.” 

“The Mater can’t carry out abortions because it goes against its ethos. I would be very concerned that the Minister [for Health, James Reilly] sees fit to make it impossible for hospitals to have their own ethos.

“The issue is broader than just abortion. What’s happening is the Minister is saying hospitals are not entitled to have an ethos.”

An official with the Department of Health, however, has responded that the right to conscientious objection does not apply to institutions: “While the legislation does provide such a right to an individual, it does not apply to a hospital.” 

Doran said, however, European law protects religious institutions from being forced to act against their religious ethos. “I believe that Catholic voluntary hospitals as a body must make it clear, both to legislators and to their own staff, that while they will always provide life-saving medical treatment for women in pregnancy, they will uphold their ethos and will never facilitate or tolerate the deliberate termination of human life, at any stage,” he said. 

The hospital said last week that they are still in the process of drafting their response to the legislation. Mater hospital is owned by a parent company made up of a number of different Catholic institutions, including the Sisters of Mercy, the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, the Catholic Nurses’ Guild of Ireland, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the medical consultants of Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the Children’s University Hospital.

Of the 25 institutions named in the legislation as having a requirement to conduct abortions, several others are owned or founded by the Catholic Church or Catholic religious orders. Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe was opened in 1945 by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood at the invitation of the bishop of the diocese of Clonfert. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, was founded by the Medical Missionaries of Mary and was taken over by the then-North Eastern Health Board (now the Health Services Executive) in 1997. St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, was founded in 1834 by Mother Mary Aikenhead, the foundress of the Religious Sisters of Charity. 

Liam Gibson, Northern Ireland development officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LifeSiteNews.com that the legal situation is serious for Catholic hospitals in Ireland who want to refuse to participate in the government’s abortion plans.

“The government has made it absolutely clear that they are not going to allow any latitude on the obligation to conduct abortions in all the named hospitals,” he said in an interview today. “They don’t recognise any conscientious objection for institutions on the grounds that abortion is a ‘human right,’ so conscientious objection doesn’t apply.” 

He spoke of plans in some quarters to bring legal challenges against the new law, based on several constitutional principles, including the right of religious organisations to conduct their own affairs according to their religious ethos. 

Much of the problem, however, lies in the fact that most Catholic hospitals are “Catholic in name only” and have long since given up financial control to the government’s Health Services Executive. Each hospital has a unique situation with regards to the relationship between the Church and the government, including complications with the various religious orders and bodies that founded them. 

“There might be some room for a challenge,” based on Catholic ethos, he said, “but at the moment it doesn’t look like the hospitals are in a position to insist.” 

“There are several questions being raised on the constitutionality on the obligation to protect the rights of unborn children,” Gibson said. “The government, however, are insisting that this has been taken into consideration.” 

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that one legal challenge possible against the abortion legislation was in the area of conscientious objection or in the case where a Catholic hospital was being forced to set aside their ethos of protecting human life.

“The ethos of the Mater does not include the deliberate taking of human life, and this legislation allows abortion until birth, so clearly the Mater, and other Catholic hospitals will need to now stand up for their ethos,” she said.

She added that it should be the ethos of every hospital to protect human life, and noted that one of the most vocal opponents of the legislation, Dr. Sam Coulter Smith of the Rotunda Hospital, belongs to the (Anglican) Church of Ireland, but reflected the views of the majority of Irish doctors who were opposed to the deliberate killing of unborn children. 

The issue will doubtless eventually go as far as the Supreme Court, but Gibson was not optimistic. “Whether the Supreme Court would agree with the government or with critics of the Act is pure speculation at this stage. There’s a possibility that they could find in favour of the pro-life objections, or discount them entirely. 

“The judiciary have not got a very good track record on questions of the unborn,” he added. “In every case that has come before them on these issues, the rights of the unborn have been diminished.”

Asked whether there are moves to launch legal action to overturn the law itself, Gibson declined to name names “for now” but said that several parties are considering options. “There are several options, but there is no magic bullet that will wipe out the legislation or overturn it,” he said. “It will be a long and difficult processes to reverse it either in the courts or through the political process.” 

Gibson also lamented the lackluster response to the crisis by the Catholic hierarchy. He told LSN that the bishops have yet to make any movement on warnings in May this year that if the bill passes, pro-life doctors will need legal and financial support when they come into inevitable conflicts with the new law. 


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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