Bishops request politicians ‘respect’ objection to abortion referrals

Bishops request politicians ‘respect’ objection to abortion referrals

Healthcare professionals who opt out of providing abortion should not be forced to make referrals to a colleague, Ireland’s bishops have told politicians who are currently debating the legislation.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference have said that because abortions are expected to be drug induced in the first 12 weeks, the right to conscientious objection should extend to pharmacists.

Whether in hospitals or in private practice they said, pharmacists should not be obligated to “routinely stock and dispense drugs whose specific purpose is to end human life”.

“Healthcare professionals, pharmacists and ancillary healthcare workers, should not face legal, professional or financial penalties or any form of discrimination for their commitment to respect life,” the bishops said in a statement released this morning (Friday).

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 was introduced to the Dáil yesterday by Health Minister Simon Harris. The legislation will be debated in view of introducing abortion services to Ireland after the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution was removed by referendum.

Ireland’s bishops pointed to New Zealand, whose healthcare professional are given an ‘opt in’ option to the provision of abortion. Regarding their conscientious objection law, they are not obliged to refer patients.

“We believe that the Government, by following this approach, could demonstrate respect for the freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals,” they stated.

“The fundamental right to freedom of conscience is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Conscience is that private space in the heart of every person in which the truth is discovered and accepted.  For men and women of faith, conscience is the reflection in their own heart of the voice of God, supported by faith and reason.  To strip a person of the right to freedom of conscience is to undermine his or her fundamental dignity as a person.”

The bishops call on Catholics to pray for healthcare professionals and to pray for politicians so they may have the “wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do what is right”.