Dear Mr. Harris,
We are dedicated, hardworking nurses and midwives who care for patients from conception to natural death. We have a conscientious commitment to life which accords with the values inherent in Our Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics. We respect and defend the dignity of every stage of human life and we have a responsibility to make every valid or reasonable effort to protect the life and health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.
We are extremely concerned that the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, in particular, Part 3 Section 24 (3)*, will seriously impact on our ability to practise. In 2018 two Scottish midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood were forced to quit their jobs when they refused to oversee abortions. For the first time this legislation, which differs from the 2013 Act, will permit the intentional ending of the life of the unborn child up to birth. For us as nurses and midwives participation in termination of pregnancy defined in relation to a pregnant woman, as a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of a foetus, is morally objectionable and conflicts with our conscientious commitment to life.
Participation includes any supervision, delegation, planning or supporting of staff involved in termination of pregnancy. We do not want to be discriminated against by our employers or victimised as employees if we exercise our right to freedom of conscience.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in the Health Service and as yet there has been no effort made by you as Minister for Health to consult the nursing or midwifery professions on the clinical implications of this bill.
We are calling on you as Minister for Health:
(a) to consult our professions in relation to this legislation and
(b) to support the amendments that have been tabled to protect our right to freedom of conscience so we will not be forced out of our professions.
Catherina O’Sullivan RPN Secretary,
Fiona McHugh, Clinical Paediatric Nurse Specialist
PRO and Nurses and Midwives for Life Ireland
*Section 24 (3) A person who has a conscientious objection referred to in subsection (1) shall, as soon as may be, make such arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned as may be necessary to enable the woman to avail of the termination of pregnancy concerned.