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Over 100 Northern Irish health care workers threaten to quit over new abortion regime

The Northern Irish health system is 'desperately short of staff,' said one pro-life activist, and cannot afford this kind of attrition.
Tue Dec 17, 2019 - 7:11 pm EST
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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, December 17, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Medical professionals, including GPs, have threatened to quit if the pro-abortion legislation forced on predominantly pro-life Northern Ireland does not make adequate provisions for conscience rights.

Dr. Andrew Cupples is among the 135 medical staff, including doctors, nurses, midwives, and pharmacists, who signed a statement indicating that they are unhappy that they may have to participate in abortions in an “ancillary, administrative or managerial capacity.”

“It is indeed welcome that healthcare professionals who object to abortion do not have to participate in a ‘hands-on’ capacity in the procedure,” the signatories conceded.

“However, for many, requests to act in an ancillary, administrative or managerial task in abortion provision may be equally problematic,” they continued.

“Performing such tasks may be key to an abortion taking place and could lead to the professional in question feeling they are complicit in something they believe to be deeply wrong.”

The group stated also that some may now choose to leave the medical profession.

Abortion was decriminalized in Northern Ireland after pro-abortion legislation was introduced by predominantly English Westminister MPs last October. A so-called “consultation” about the planned new abortion services was introduced in November and closed yesterday. Such pro-life peers in Northern Ireland as Baroness O’Loan and Lord Maurice Marrow have objected to the vagueness of the questions in the consultation.

Philip Lynn, the development officer for the Northern Ireland branch of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LifeSiteNews that forcing medical professionals to commit abortion violates the foundation of health care in the nation.

“Abortion, by its very nature, is an act of lethal violence against a child; it is not healthcare,” Lynn said via email.

“Compelling medical staff to participate in acts of abortion undermines the Hippocratic tradition that underpins medical practice in Northern Ireland, and violates their freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the Human Rights Act 1998,” he continued.

“Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 creates the most extreme abortion regime in Western Europe, which will exclude contentious pro-life medics from an already tottering health system. As such, this legislation cannot be ‘improved’ or reformed: it must be repealed in its entirety.​”

Niamh Uí Bhriain of Ireland’s Life Institute said the integrity of pro-life professionals should be respected and their right to act in accordance with their conscience upheld.

“Every doctor and medic knows abortion kills a baby, so any regime that tries to force pro-life medical professionals to take part in a life-ending procedure is truly authoritarian,” Uí Bhriain told LifeSiteNews via email.

“We’re seeing doctors and nurses in Ireland increasingly say they’d rather leave medicine than be forced to play any part in killing an unborn child,” she continued.

Uí Bhriain added that Irish health services need to retain all the professionals they can.

“At a time when the Irish health service is desperately short of staff, politicians should be doing everything they can to facilitate conscientious objectors, not bully them out of medical practice,” she said.

At the end of November, thousands of Northern Irish people protested the radical new abortion legislation imposed on them by Westminster MPs. Until then, Northern Ireland was the safest part of the UK for unborn babies, particularly those diagnosed with disabilities. Northern Ireland rejected the 1967 UK Abortion Act, and since then, unborn children in the region continued to be protected by the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. The new law repeals the sections of the 1861 Act that defend unborn children.

Pro-life leaders have described the current situation as a state of “legal chaos.”


  abortion, freedom of conscience, medicine, northern ireland

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