Ireland’s reliance on Muslim doctors in hospitals around the country may derail Government plans to roll out a national abortion service, a leading obstetrician has said.
Large numbers of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) working in maternity units outside Dublin are Muslims from abroad, according to Dr Trevor Hayes of Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital, who says he had been personally told that they have serious religious qualms about performing abortions.
“A lot of the NCHDs – a lot of the registrars and senior registrars and SHOs (senior house officers), so the front line – would be from Egypt, Sudan, and generally Muslim countries,” Dr Hayes told The Irish Catholic.
“These would be in the country hospitals, and because of that they have frontline exposure, and they would have religious objections to be involved in the abortion service.”
Dr Hayes, who was named Obstetrician of the Year in 2009 and 2013 by Maternity and Infant Magazine said a dependence on Muslim consultants is preventing Cavan General Hospital from introducing an abortion service, and that he suspects that conscientious objections from Muslims could block abortions from taking place in 12 of the country’s 19 maternity units.
“I’m not professing that I have huge knowledge about Islam, but they have religious objections to being involved in it,” he said.
According to Dr Ali Selim, spokesman for the Dublin’s Islamic Culture Centre, abortion is unacceptable for Muslims except in cases of dire need. “In Islam abortion is the lesser harm, conducted only to save the mother’s life if all other options prove to be useless,” he told The Irish Catholic, adding: “Life is God’s gift.”
According to figures published by the Medical Council in 2016, roughly two out of five doctors registered to work in Ireland have trained abroad, with over three quarters of the country’s non-consultant hospital doctors being international medical graduates and with Pakistan and Sudan being the top countries from which internationally-qualified doctors come.
Obstetrics and Gynaecology is the field most likely to be staffed from doctors with overseas qualifications, with 58% of doctors in that area having graduated abroad.
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