Doctors seek full freedom of conscience protections under new abortion law.
28 September, 2018
A group of general practitioners representing doctors for freedom of conscience met with TDs and Senators this morning at an event hosted by the Oireachtas Human Dignity group in Leinster House.
The doctors outlined their concerns with the way that the Minister for Health is unilaterally imposing abortion provision on general practice without any prior consultation with GPs on the ground and how freedom of conscience is not protected under the proposed legislation.
Dr Kirsten Fuller told the meeting that “doctors in this country have always been trained to care for pregnant women and their unborn babies. The referendum is now over and it is critical that the law respects the views of doctors who choose to continue to treat both patients with care and compassion. Forcing a doctor to make a referral for an abortion against their conscience is simply wrong”.
Dr Andrew O’ Regan outlined how “A pluralist democracy recognises and respects the rights of all members of society. For a Minister for Health to say to doctors that they must make a referral for an abortion when it runs completely contrary to their training in evidence based medicine. What kind of choice is it to give anybody – do as I say or face the law of the land? A healthy and mature approach to this would be to ensure that the law protects GPs to continue to practice in accordance with their conscience.”
Dr Niall Maguire spoke about the need for an open and honest conversation with the medical profession, saying that “as GPs we have a conscientious commitment to our patients often over the duration of a lifetime. I and very many of my colleagues see it as our role to provide support and positive alternatives to abortion. We would never prescribe or make a referral that we suspect would cause harm in any situation. Now this practice is threatened by a law that would force us to set in motion a procedure we believe to be harmful.”
The doctors stressed that based on online surveys of registered GPs the overwhelming majority of GPs will not get involved in prescribing abortion and that respecting the conscience rights of GPs is of paramount importance.