While the law legalizing abortion went into effect in Ireland last week, only a small number of doctors have signed up to perform abortions, according to an article in The Irish Catholic.
According to Dr. Andrew O’Regan, a Kerry, Ireland-based doctor, only 10 percent of Ireland’s GPs (general practitioners) have agreed to perform abortions since the law legalizing abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy was enacted at the start of the month.
The law passed the Irish legislature in December, following a referendum in which the Irish overwhelming voted to repeal a clause in the country’s constitution outlawing abortion.
O’Regan told The Irish Catholic that overburdened doctors are reluctant to take add abortion to the services they provide their patients.
“It’s not surprising that there’s such a small number at the moment. The reality is we’re living in a time where general practice is under huge strain, we’re actually unable to retain an awful lot of our young trainees,” said O’Regan.
While the law does not force doctors to perform abortions, it compels doctors to refer a woman who wants an abortion to another physician. Pro-life doctors like O’Regan believe that the law does not do enough to allow for conscientious objectors.
“I will never do anything that will intentionally lead to the death of one of my patients, be that a baby in the womb or anybody else – an old or sick person – whether I’m operating within the law,” said O’Regan. “The welfare of the patients in front of me is more important than a very, very corrupt law.”
On January 1, as the law took effect, one of Ireland’s most prominent Catholic clergymen called on Catholics to “resist.”
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, who also is president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said of the new law that “in good conscience it cannot be supported; it has to be resisted and we must continue to call and work diligently for its limitation, amendment and repeal.”
Martin stressed that doctors should not be compelled to refer patients to abortion providers.
“No one should be forced, against their conscience, to participate in abortion or to refer patients to others for abortion,” he said.