Catholic hospital ‘cannot comply’ with new Irish abortion law
DUBLIN, August 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Catholic hospital in Dublin has said it cannot comply with the new law allowing abortions in Ireland, because doing so would contradict the hospital's Catholic vision and institutional character.
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital “can’t carry out abortions because it goes against its ethos," said Fr. Kevin Doran, who is on both the hospital's board of governors and its board of directors.
“The issue is broader than just abortion,” Fr. Doran said. “What’s happening is the Minister [for Health James Reilly] is saying hospitals are not entitled to have an ethos.”
The Mater was named in the new abortion act as one of 25 “appropriate institutions” where abortions could be committed, the Irish Times reported.
One of the Sisters of Mercy working at the Mater said the abortion act was forced on the hospital and could be an impediment to service if the board decides to preserve the hospital's Catholic character.
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Sr. Eugene Nolan, who is a nurse tutor and member of the board of directors, said that the situation facing the hospital is “very, very grave” and that the legislation “is being imposed on us."
“It is against our ethos," she said. "The main thing is we have an obligation to preserve the ethos of the hospital and still try and do the best we can. [The legislation] will have to be looked at very carefully.”
The hospital, which was founded in 1861, is owned and operated by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, along with the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, the Catholic Nurses Guild of Ireland, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the medical consultants of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and of the Children's University Hospital.
Its mission statement says, in part, that the hospital's purpose is to care for the sick as a "participation in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ" and to "respect the dignity of human life."
In a statement in anticipation of meetings to discuss the hospital's reaction to the legislation, Fr. Doran told the Irish Times that it was “incumbent on the hospital to consider its position" on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which allows abortion up to the point of full gestation in cases where the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, including if she threatens suicide.
Fr. Doran noted that if the board should decide to abandon the Mater's Catholic identity and comply with the abortion legislation, the hospital's other main partner, the Archdiocese of Dublin, would be faced with a tough decision.
“I suppose I can assume there would be very serious discussion between the Archbishop [of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin] and the management of the hospital” at that point, Fr. Doran said.