Freedom of Conscience set to become major Irish election issue, Doctors’ Rally outside Dail told.
The group ‘Doctors for Freedom of Conscience’ held a rally yesterday evening outside the Dáil focussing on the fact that freedom of conscience for doctors and healthcare workers is not adequately protected in the abortion Bill which is before the Dáil this week.  Speakers at the event warned that freedom of conscience is set to become a major election issue if the Government refuses to enshrine proper protections for conscientious objection in its new abortion law.

Dr Kirsten Fuller from Tipperary told the gathering on Molesworth Street that “today, when a GP heads to work at the start of a new week, he or she enters their surgery with the intention of healing not harming, with the intention of preserving human life not ending it. We are being asked to change all that. Not asked but coerced.”

Dr Fuller said: “The Minister for Health broke the news to all healthcare workers through the media. Not by meeting with GPs, nurses, midwives and pharmacists to discuss our concerns, reservations and opposition. Instead, he presented it as a fait accompli on the airwaves. The Government knew full well that doctors were not ready and willing to end the lives of unborn babies. They knew the answer they would get if they sat down with ordinary doctors, nurses and midwives to discuss the issue. So instead they decided to make the decision for us without consultation.”

She continued: “And they know to this day the depth of opposition among medics that exists over what they are doing. They’ve seen the GP Buddy surveys showing that of the 936 GPs who took part 75% are opposed to a GP-led abortion regime.”

Dr Fuller said: “We are not going to be used as pawns to normalise the taking of innocent human life. The sooner that sinks in the better because we will not rest until freedom of conscience is fully respected and proper safeguards are enshrined in law.”

Jim Carr, a pharmacist from Co. Louth also addressed the crowd.  He said “At the heart of healthcare is a bond of trust between the patient and the healthcare professional.  How can a patient trust a healthcare professional who would be willing to act against their own conscience? Tragically, there is already a crisis of trust in Irish healthcare. But people still trust front-line healthcare workers to do what they think is right.
This Bill will undermine this last bastion of trust, turning healthcare workers from brave champions of patients to obedient functionaries.”

Dr Aisling Bastible from Dublin told the crowd that she had a question for TDs who intended voting for the Government’s abortion bill.

Addressed to TDs, she said: “Would you consider using your constituency office as an abortion clinic? If the idea abhors you, then please don’t vote to turn our GP surgeries into actual abortion clinics. And please don’t vote for a bill that forces us to perform non-medical procedures that will end the lives of our fellow human beings.”

Dr Bastible said “it is a glaring untruth to call abortion healthcare. The people didn’t vote for this extreme and inhumane abortion bill in the referendum. They simply voted to repeal the 8th Amendment. It is the Oireachtas not the people who are responsible for the grotesque bill currently before the Dáil.

Maria Ni Aodha, a nurse from Galway described it as a “chilling reality that the Government expects healthcare professionals to switch overnight from protecting the lives of unborn babies to now taking an active role in ending them. “

She said: “As a nurse, I find it extraordinary that the Minister for Health expects us to embrace this change without him or his department ever consulting with nurses or the official bodies that represent us.”

Dr Brendan Crowley, a GP from Cork said: “The Government expect us to ignore the fact that the new bill has nothing to do with evidence-based medicine. We are being asked to surrender our clinical judgment and pretend that what we are being asked to do is healthcare even though we know it has nothing whatsoever to do with it.”

Dr Crowley said: “I didn’t become a doctor to end human life – quite the opposite. I became a doctor to do my upmost to protect life and care for all my patients, born and unborn. And that is never going to change. I will never serve a law that compels me to end the life of another human being.
He concluded: “If the Government refuses to enshrine proper freedom of conscience protections then a lot of GPs will walk away from their jobs rather than cooperate with such an unjust law. If it reaches this point, areas will lose some of the finest GPs in the country and it will become a major election issue. Of that much I am certain. I don’t think the Government has thought this one through at all. I fear they’ll realise it when it’s too late.”

Click on the image above to listen to Dr. Brendan Crowley’s speech seeking Freedom of Conscience protections for doctors and healthcare professionals in the Government’s draft abortion legislation.

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