Catholic leaders fight Irish government’s plan to force church’s hospitals to provide abortions

Catholic leaders fight Irish government’s plan to force church’s hospitals to provide abortions
Irish voters recently approved legislation to repeal the eighth amendment, which banned abortions in the country. The legislation also forced Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, but Catholic leaders are fighting back. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Nearly 67 percent of Irish voters approved a measure earlier this year that would not only make abortions legal, but it would also force Catholic hospitals to provide them, LifeNews reported.

But Catholic leaders are fighting back against the legislation.

“Faithful Catholics will make no compromise on the issue of abortion with the spirit of this evil age,” Father Patrick McCafferty of Belfast wrote in a letter published by Irish News. “Abortion is a matter of life or death. To intentionally terminate the most defenseless among us, is indicative of what is at the heart of human society, which must be rejected and opposed at every turn.”

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference recently published its code of health care ethics, which forbids Catholic hospitals from performing abortions, according to The Catholic Herald.

What’s the story?

The Republic of Ireland voted May 25 to repeal its constitution’s eighth amendment, which outlawed abortion. Pro-life groups have called the vote a “tragedy of historic proportions,” according to LifeNews.

The repeal will allow women to have abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy for any reason and up to six months for specific reasons, including abortions for unborn babies with disabilities.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference code of ethical standards has called on hospitals to refuse to perform abortions.

“No health care facility or practitioner should provide, or refer a patient for, an abortion, i.e. any procedure, treatment or medication whose primary purpose or sole immediate effect is to terminate the life of a fetus or of an embryo before or after implantation. Such procedures, treatments, and medications are morally wrong because they involve the direct and deliberate killing of, or a direct lethal assault on, an innocent human life in the earliest stages of development,” the code states, according to Iona Institute for Religion and Society.

About 20 hospitals in Ireland are Catholic-affiliated, according to LifeNews.

What do pro-abortion lawmakers say?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently said that there should be a separation of church and state.

“Religious bodies are, of course, entitled to come up with their own ethical guidelines but the ones that should be followed in publicly funded hospitals are those of the medical council and that is what I would very much expect to happen.

“My view is that we should separate the Church and state; that the Church should no longer be at the center of public life, but it shouldn’t be excluded from it either,” the prime minister said recently, according to LifeNews.

Simon Harris, the minister of health, proposed conscientious objection rights that would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions but it would also require them to refer women to a physician who would perform the abortion. And Catholic hospitals would still be required to provide the abortions.

“Conscientious objection is for individuals, not institutions,” Harris said.

The health minister also told She Magazine he would oppose any amendment to prohibit eugenic abortions.

What do pro-life lawmakers say?

Pro-life legislators are working on amendments that could provide some protection to unborn babies, according to Life News.

Advocates have promised to continue fighting to protect unborn babies, mothers, and physicians’ rights.