Despite the many problems plaguing the health sector, the Minister for Health is determined to push the abortion legislation through by 1 January 2019. The proposed legislation would force GPs either to do an abortion when requested, or refer to another doctor who would perform such an operation. Many GPs are upset about this proposal since it is contrary to the very reasons why they entered the medical field. Fsspx.ie recently sat down with a pro-life GP and asked him about this important issue facing the medical doctors in Ireland today.
fsspx.ie: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do?
GP: I am currently working in hospital medicine while training to be a general practitioner. I have trained and worked in the Irish healthcare system since the start of my career. I have previously worked in the pharmaceutical sector also.
fsspx.ie: In the wake of the abortion referendum do you fear your personal ethos will be jeopardised to such an extent that you may regret choosing to work as a doctor?
GP: I enjoy my work as a doctor and hope to contribute positively to the lives of my patients for years to come. The results of the abortion referendum last May have certainly changed the outlook for the pro-life doctor in Ireland. The proposed legislation states a doctor who has a conscientious objection to abortion must arrange transfer of care of the woman to a doctor willing to participate in an abortion. If we do not succeed in securing legal protection for all healthcare professionals in relation to conscientious objection it may have highly damaging consequences to the provision of general practice throughout Irish communities. It may decimate an already overstretched GP service, especially in rural areas. I believe that the beliefs of pro-life doctors will not be swayed by a populist agenda.
fsspx.ie: What about other doctors you work with? What have pro-life doctors done to protect themselves against this legislation?
GP: In keeping with the results of the referendum, a proportion of GPs support abortion and are willing to provide this ‘service’ in their practice. However, a large number of pro-life doctors have mobilised in the wake of the referendum to ensure that their voices, and that of their unborn patients, are heard. An online survey of nearly 1,000 registered GPs on GPbuddy.ie (an Irish GP-only online forum) in June 2018 found that 75% of those surveyed opposed a GP-led abortion ‘service’. Conscientious objection was one of the many reasons, along with an already overstretched GP service. Recently, over 650 GPs signed a letter addressed to the Irish College of General Practitioners asking for an EGM to discuss the proposed legislation. This meeting is due to take place in early December.
fsspx.ie: How hopeful are you that these concerns will be addressed in the upcoming legislation?
GP: While engagement with the ICGP has been disappointing, we continue to lobby on this very important issue. We await the meeting in December that will allow a larger forum for all pro-life doctors to come together and make our voices heard. While the government are railroading this legislation through at an alarming rate, the general consensus is that general practice will not be prepared to provide this ‘service’ on January 1st; marry in haste, repent at leisure! The continued commitment of a large number of pro-life doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in recent months makes me hopeful of achieving our goal of safeguarding conscientious objection without the obligation to refer onwards.
fsspx.ie: Do you have any final thoughts on the impact of abortion on Irish society as a whole?
GP: I feel abortion is detrimental to the compassionate and caring side of our society. If our government and people will not protect the life of the unborn, it does not bode well for the other vulnerable members of our society. We see too often in daily life the marginalisation of various groups in our society, such as the elderly and disabled and the lack of services provided for them. Unfortunately, I believe they do not fit into the social agenda being promoted at the moment. I would encourage people to contact their public representatives and legislators to make their thoughts and feelings known on this pivotal issue.