Fighting for life as an Irish doctor

Fighting for life as an Irish doctor Dr Andrew O'Regan
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Madison Duddy

 

One of the leading voices in the Irish pro-life movement, Kerry-based Dr Andrew O’Regan, can remember a time when being a ‘pro-life doctor’ was not even considered, because all doctors knew their purpose was to protect life.

“‘Pro-life doctor’ was a silly term because surely all doctors are pro-life and all doctors want to help promote life and protect life. It is really only in my more recent years I’ve heard that just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean necessarily that you’re about preserving life,” Dr O’Regan says.

Now, in an Ireland where abortion is legal, doctors are abided by law to offer pregnant women services to end a life, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Dr O’Regan still refuses to abandon his vow to protect life.

The fight for doctors’ freedom of conscience is one of the main issues Dr O’Regan and his colleagues addressed prior to the referendum.”

“I would never refer someone for an abortion, and the reason for that is if I am asked to consult with a lady that is pregnant, the way I was trained and the only way I can do that is to see that there are two patients in front of me: one is the expecting mother and the other is the baby,” he says. “I could never make arrangements for something knowing that the end result would be that one of those patients would die and the end of the chain of events would be a tiny dead baby.”

The fight for doctors’ freedom of conscience is one of the main issues Dr O’Regan and his colleagues addressed prior to the referendum.

“I think that there’s a role for GPs and doctors in general that hold pro-life views to support women and to offer women that are in really difficult and really challenging pregnancy situations a more positive option, to offer them life-affirming alternatives, to offer them support and hope so they can carry their babies and have a great life for the single mother or as a mother that has family or social difficulties and that abortion is not the only option,” Dr O’Regan says.

After the government passed the referendum, he says leaders did not consult doctors about the role they must play in the new abortion laws. Dr O’Regan called it “a huge disappointment” for leaders to not “consult the professional bodies involved or seek their views”.

Although many people are led to believe the prevailing view is pro-abortion, he says many pro-life supporters are silenced by a fear culture that threatens to cast them out if they value life. Most citizens will not see an abortion performed or understand the procedure before they develop their views about it. If they did, Dr O’Regan says they would not support it.

No matter the laws about abortion in Ireland, Dr O’Regan stressed how much he loves his job and helping people.”

“Anyone that has seen an abortion realises how barbaric that act is,” he says. “Many people, hundreds and hundreds of doctors around the country, would not want to have any part in a procedure like that that intentionally seeks to end the life of somebody, in this instance the baby.”

Specifically, he emphasised that abortion is a political issue and not a health care issue. As a GP, he sees patients day after day with real health problems that the government is doing little to nothing to solve. Because abortion is a political issue, the government focuses on it above healthcare issues.

“If you look up all the problems we have in healthcare: all the problems with mental health, all the problems with people waiting and outpatient appointments, young children will suffer terrific problems waiting for over a year to see specialists, there are people, older women, waiting on trolleys; none of that has been talked about by the government,” he says.

Abortion could never be healthcare, Dr O’Regan says, because it is “ending life and healthcare is promoting life”.

“We were told again and again and again during that referendum that women were in danger and if we didn’t have abortion, that woman’s lives would suffer, that there would be some sort of an artificial crisis or the perception of an artificial crisis,” he says. “This was very, very, very carefully constructed by people within the media and people on the pro-abortion side.”

No matter the laws about abortion in Ireland, Dr O’Regan stressed how much he loves his job and helping people. More importantly, he hopes young people will not be discouraged from a profession in medicine since the legalisation of abortion because the medical field needs pro-life doctors to uphold the value of life.

Specifically, he emphasised that abortion is a political issue and not a health care issue.”

“Many families now say they wouldn’t send their children into medicine because of the issues around abortion, but I would say for those families that it is actually more important now than ever that people with pro-life views go into medicine. I would ask young people considering a career in medicine to see beyond the new abortion culture and to think of the positive role they could play in people’s lives by being an alternative voice within medicine and offering the people they meet real and positive support as well as hope.”

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