Midwife voices fear for conscientious objectors if NI legislation changes
Health workers in Northern Ireland could be left “exposed” by changes to abortion law, a lecturer in midwifery has claimed.
Debbie Duncan spent over 30 years working as a midwife in Scotland and England and now lectures at the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast.
She was never obliged to take part in abortions during her career as the law allowed her to conscientiously object.
Ms Duncan said she fears “too much change with no regulation” means the same protections may not apply here. . . [Full text]
Only doctors who are willing to perform abortions will be considered
for two consultant posts at Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital. The
hospital is advertising for a consultant anaesthetist and a consultant
in obstetrics and gynaecology.
According to a statement from the NMH the
positions include the “provision of termination-of-pregnancy services,
and are for individuals willing to contribute to the provision of these
A source at the hospital told the Irish Times
that conscientious objection guidelines for existing staff would remain
as they were before.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan, of Northern Ireland, recently warned that the Republic would be entering “uncharted territory” if it made willingness to perform abortions a condition of employment. What if doctors changed their mind, feeling in conscience that they could no longer participate in abortions, she asked.
After a referendum last year which allowed abortion to be legalised, Ireland is expanding its services quickly to provide abortions. The health department’s budget provides €7 million in funding for abortion services this year and €12 million in 2020.
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Catholic Universe-The Catholic Times
Pro-life groups have claimed that the recent drop in applications to midwifery courses could be rectified by enshrining conscientious objection.
Recent figures show that there has been a 35 per cent drop in the number of applicants to midwifery courses since 2013. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which analysed the latest Ucas data for England, said the biggest reduction was in those aged 21 or over.
In 2013, more than 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England, but by 2017 that figure had dropped to just 6,700 – a decrease of 45 per cent. . . [Full text]
With the Brexit legislation receiving the lion’s share of attention in Parliament, there has been little to no coverage on the progression of any other bill in recent months. This is usually the time of year where activity on private members’ bills (which have only a small chance of passing into law) winds down. However, with the current Parliamentary Session being extended to two years to deal with the magnitude of the Brexit legislation, we are in extraordinary times.
There is one such private member’s bill before the House of Lords which has seen a surprising ramp-up in activity over the last few months. The bill is sponsored by Baroness O’Loan – a widely respected legal mind from Northern Ireland who was the first Police Ombudsman – and will have its committee stage today, Friday. It is focused on the relatively niche area of protection of conscience for healthcare professionals. . . [Full text]
Pro-choice groups have condemned an attempt to create new laws that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to take part in abortions on moral grounds.
A private bill going through the House of Lords that would expand rights of conscientious objection for healthcare professionals has been dismissed as unnecessary by abortion providers and campaigners.
Those in favour of the bill, sponsored by the Northern Irish crossbench peer Nuala O’Loan, insisted their aim was not to restrict abortion but to uphold freedom of belief and religion they claim is under threat in hospitals since a contentious supreme court ruling in 2014. . . [Full text]