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Irish Health Minister Simon Harris

DUBLIN, Ireland, December 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-abortion Irish health minister and his deputy are still refusing to meet with pro-life nurses and midwives about their conscience rights.

In a recent press release, Ireland’s Nurses & Midwives for Life have said that the Irish government’s health minister Simon Harris and the leader of the opposition, Michael Martin, will not meet with them.

The group says that almost 500 nurses and midwives on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMI) register signed a petition in the last three weeks to Harris calling on him to protect their freedom of conscience and to support amendments to the republic’s proposed liberalized abortion law in relation to freedom of conscience.

“Nurses and midwives who do not want to participate in abortions are extremely concerned in relation to Section 24(3) of the bill which states *Section 24 (3) A person who has a conscientious objection referred to in subsection (1) shall, as soon as may be, make such arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned as may be necessary to enable the woman to avail of the termination of pregnancy concerned,” said the group.

Meanwhile, they are “appalled” that members of the governing party have not supported various moderate amendments aimed at preserving the health and dignity of at least some of Ireland’s most vulnerable human beings.

“We are appalled that humane amendments in relation to pain relief for late abortions, resuscitation measures where a baby survives an abortion, the exclusion of disability, race or gender as grounds for abortion, parental notification and dignified disposal of remains have not been supported by any Fine Gael TDs,” the pro-life nurses and midwives wrote.

The group stated that they have “repeatedly” asked to meet with Harris and Martin to discuss their concerns, but they have received no “follow up.”

They have also said that there has been “little or no consultation with staff as to what impact this legislation will have on clinical practice and the impact on health service delivery.”

In addition, the pro-life nurses and midwives have sent the Minister of Health a letter telling him that the “intentional ending of the life of the unborn child” conflicts with their “conscientious commitment to life.”

The petition from nurses and midwives to Harris is below.

Petition to the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, TD

Dear Mr. Harris,

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.

We are extremely concerned that the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, in particular, Part 3 Section 24 (3)*, will seriously impact on our ability to practise. In 2018 two Scottish midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood were forced to quit their jobs when they refused to oversee abortions. For the first time this legislation, which differs from the 2013 Act, will permit the intentional ending of the life of the unborn child up to birth. For us as nurses and midwives participation in termination of pregnancy defined in relation to a pregnant woman, as a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of a foetus, is morally objectionable and conflicts with our conscientious commitment to life.

Participation includes any supervision, delegation, planning or supporting of staff involved in termination of pregnancy. We do not want to be discriminated against by our employers or victimised as employees if we exercise our right to freedom of conscience.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in the Health Service and as yet there has been no effort made by you as Minister for Health to consult the nursing or midwifery professions on the clinical implications of this bill.

We are calling on you as Minister for Health

(a)       to consult our professions in relation to this legislation and

(b)       to support the amendments that have been tabled to protect our right to freedom of conscience so we will not be forced out of our professions.

Yours sincerely,

Marie Donnelly RGN  [Registered General Nurse] Chair
Margaret McGovern RGN Vice Chair
Catherina O'Sullivan RPN [Registered Practical Nurse] Secretary
Fiona McHugh Clinical Paediatric Nurse Specialist PRO
Nurses and Midwives for Life Ireland