People need to be free to act on their conscience

Irish Examiner

Dónal O’Mathúna

CONSCIENTIOUS objection is a hugely important concept. On fundamental ethical issues, like life and death, people should have the freedom to act on their conscience.

This applies to those legislating on abortion and providing access to abortion. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 allows conscientious objection, but in the most limited way. Its provisions are more restrictive than in many other jurisdictions, which carries a chilling message. . .

. . . Forcing people to violate their conscience risks bending or breaking the moral compass that guides them. Therefore, legislators should be free to vote on this legislation according to their conscience. And anyone working in hospitals providing abortions should be able to consciously object to being involved. [Full text]

Concerns raised about freedom of conscience in Ireland

The protection of conscience provision in a preliminary draft Irish abortion law has been criticized by Dr. Donal O’Mathuna, a lecturer in ethics at Dublin City University.  Dr. O’Mathuna objected to the claim that freedom of conscience is enjoyed by individuals, but not by institutions, and to the provision demanding mandatory referral by objecting physicians.  Dr. John Murray, a lecturer in moral theology at Mater Dei Institute and chairman of the board of The Iona Institute, insisted that Irish politicians must vote according to their conscientious convictions, even if that means defying the party whips. [Iona Institute]