Irish PM: Doctors will be forced to refer women for abortions
DUBLIN, Ireland, June 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The head of the Irish government has declared that doctors will not be able to completely avoid facilitating abortions once the procedure is finally legalized.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said Monday that while general practitioners (GPs) will be free to “conscientiously object” to directly facilitating abortion procedures, they will not be allowed to avoid referring patients who seek one to a willing doctor.
Refusing to provide abortion referrals would be akin to telling women, “you're on your own, love,” Varadkar declared, according to RTE. That, he said, was no longer tolerable after Irish citizens voted last month to repeal the Eighth Amendment recognizing a preborn right to life.
The comments are the latest indication that Ireland’s upcoming abortion regime will be far more radical than what repeal supporters advertised during the campaign.
At the heart of their argument was a government proposal to legalize elective first-trimester abortions, with later abortions supposedly limited to medical emergencies or fatal fetal abnormalities. Many pro-abortion advocates, including Varadkar, framed legalization as a moderate step necessary to serve rape victims and pregnant women in life-threatening medical emergencies.
However, pro-lifers warned that the plan’s “health exceptions” were broad enough to legalize many late-term abortions for non-emergencies, and that it would lead to exterminating disabled or otherwise imperfect children. They have also challenged the premise that abortion is necessary to save women’s lives, noting that Ireland has one of the world’s lowest maternal mortality rates.
Since the vote, the Irish government has made additional moves confirming that the incoming abortion laws will be far from moderate. Health Minister Simon Harris has called for abortions to be covered at taxpayer expense, and for “exclusion zones” to restrict pro-lifers protesting, praying, or sidewalk counseling outside of facilities that perform abortions.
“Forcing a doctor to take part in that goes against everything they have been trained to do,” Pro-Life Campaign spokeswoman Cora Sherlock declared in response to the latest news.
“It is unreasonable to force doctors who disagree with ending life to partake in it in any way. This is neither particular nor strange in a democracy,” she continued.
Varadkar’s comments come as the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) is calling for the finalized abortion law to include an “opt-in” provision ensuring that only physicians who support abortion will have to be involved.
The Taoiseach has previously endorsed an opt-in for performing abortions, leading NAGP president Dr. Maitiu O’Tuathail to welcome “clarification” from Varadkar on conscience protections in light of his comments about abortion referrals.