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Fr Kevin Doran resigns from Mater over abortion act

By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 October, 2013

“My issue is ultimately with the Act,” he said of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy.

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Prominent Irish priest Fr Kevin Doran has said the reason for his resignation from the Mater Hospital’s board of governors and board of directors is the terms of the abortion act and not the Mater Hospital.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net he said he wanted to “emphasise” that he had not made any statement about the Mater Hospital.

“My issue is ultimately with the Act,” he said in relation to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy.

Fr Doran resigned from board of governors and board of directors last weekend in what was “a personal decision based on my own judgement of conscience that I could not give my unqualified adherence to the Act.” He had held these roles since 2000.

He underlined that he was not speaking for the Mater, nor could he reveal anything of any discussions which took place at board meetings.

“In so far as I can comment it is really only about the Act itself and about how I understand the mission of a Catholic hospital,” he said.

He commented, “The Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act provides for essential medical treatment for women during pregnancy in the course of which the unborn might die as an unavoidable and unintended consequence. I have never had any quibble with that.”

The Dublin priest added, “The direct taking of the life of the unborn – as envisaged in Section 9 of the Act – is contrary to Catholic teaching and, while it is not the only concern I have with the Act, it is the most serious one. I could not in conscience give my unqualified adherence to the Act.”

He told CatholicIreland.net that in addition to providing the kind of care that reflects the healing ministry of Jesus, a Catholic hospital is called to clearly bear witness to Gospel values among which is respect for every human life.

His decision follows the hospital’s announcement last week that it would comply with the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy act.

In a statement, the Mater said its priority is to be at the frontier of compassion, concern and clinical care for all its patients.

“Having regard to that duty the Hospital will comply with the law as provided for in the act,” it said.

The Act allows for abortion where there is a risk to the life of the mother, including a risk of suicide. That provision was strongly opposed by the pro-life movement. 

Last August, Fr Doran, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, said he believed the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital would not comply with the Act as abortion was contrary to the hospital’s ethos.

However, the Irish Government warned that while there is a provision in the Act for individual conscientious objectors, there was no such provision for the 25 “appropriate institutions” named in the Act as locations where abortions could be carried out.

The Catholic Voluntary hospital is owned by the Sisters of Mercy and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin is its President.

On Sunday, Archbishop Martin told the Irish Independent that the Mater had been “scrupulous” in trying to defend both the life of mother and the unborn child.

Asked about the hospital’s decision to comply with the terms of the abortion act, the Archbishop said that though he was president of the hospital he had no powers in the governance of the hospital.

He paid tribute to the Mater Hospital’s “great tradition of caring for very difficult pregnancies and doing it well within the ethos of the hospital over years.”

“There have been extremely complicated (pregnancies) and I know that they are scrupulous in the policy of trying to defend both the life of the mother and the unborn child. I hope that that continues,” he said. 

He said he would be seeking further clarifications on the exact meaning of the hospital’s statement.

Of the Act, he commented, “The law is a law which enables rather than demands. It says it is possible to do certain things but it doesn’t dictate medical decisions. If the hospital has been so good in the past working within its ethos – I hope that will be possible for that to happen in the future.”

While agreeing that the Act itself doesn’t dictate medical decisions, Fr Doran commented, it “makes certain procedures lawful which were not lawful before.”

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