The right to refuse abortion for Ireland's doctors?

Following the legalisation of abortion representatives of doctors, the government and women's rights activists are locked in a dispute over whether individual doctors should have the right to refuse to carry out an abortion on grounds of conscience. People on both sides voice their opinions in Irish media.

Open/close all quotes
The Irish Times (IE) /

Denying a lawful treatment is discrimination

Doctors' personal reasons do not give them the right to refuse to perform an abortion, columnist Newton Emerson writes in The Irish Times:

“Withholding a lawful treatment on personal religious grounds is an extraordinary act of discrimination. The practice is associated almost exclusively with abortion and is a surprisingly recent innovation in law and medicine, almost unknown in the world before the 1967 Abortion Act in Britain. Other countries that copied Britain have since had second thoughts - Sweden, Finland and Iceland no longer permit conscientious objection at all, while Portugal has banned it in public hospitals.” (IE) /

Leave it up to the doctor

Doctors must be able to decide for themselves whether to terminate a pregnancy or not, argues Maitiu O Tuathail, head of Ireland's National Association of General Practitioners, in

“I do not believe that any member of society, whether a doctor or not, should be forced to do anything they do not want to do. To threaten them with jail on the grounds of conscientious objection is wrong on many levels. ... We are a broad church and must respect the beliefs and viewpoints of all of society, whether we agree with them or not. I would prefer my father to be seen by a surgeon who wanted to operate on him, rather than one who was forced to do so. I would want the same for my sister, should she wish to access abortion services in Ireland.”