Nearly 1,000 medics registered in Northern Ireland are refusing to be involved in providing abortions to patients. The defiant action comes after abortion was legalized in the country in early October, plunging many physicians into a moral dilemma. Northern Irish doctor Andrew Cupples, who is vehemently opposed to the liberalization of the abortion laws, warned a number of his colleagues have vowed to leave the profession if they’re forced to carry out terminations. “Hundreds of healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland will refuse to be involved in abortion services,” Cupples told the Independent.
Cupples has written a letter to the Northern Ireland Secretary, Julian Smith, outlining his concerns. The letter has been signed by 911 of the country’s medical professionals. Indeed, it is not just doctors concerned about the sudden law change and its implications. “There are also people in obstetrics and gynecology and midwives who are worried if they do not agree to be trained in abortion they could be forced to do so or reprimanded by their employers or a professional body,” Cupples explained, noting midwives and other maternity staff have “no protection” under the new guidelines to object to being involved in abortion services.
According to the protocols issued by the British Parliament, medical professionals who conscientiously object to being involved in abortions “must raise this with their employer” in the interim period, prior to a public consultation being carried out within the Northern Ireland government. The consultation is due to address key issues such as how far along a woman can obtain an abortion and what procedures will be permitted, along with clearer guidelines concerning conscientious objection. One local politician, Michael Savage, has urged the Northern Irish Assembly to create its own laws in order to protect the unborn.
Despite being a member of the Social Democratic Labour Party, the leader of which is pro-abortion, Savage says his pro-life persuasion is informed by his personal experience (his son was born at just 25 weeks and survived). Now, he wants to ensure other babies are given a shot at life, too. “I believe that my experience is testimony that even with a 20% chance of survival, my son was given the opportunity to fulfil his life and has taken it with both hands,” he said. “We would just consider ourselves to be exceptionally lucky and couldn’t think of life without him,” the lawmaker continued. “It puts you very close to understanding the whole concept of the miracle of life.”