Thursday, 6 December 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Second Stage
An issue as important as this needs really careful consideration.
I would like to look at one issue to start off with, that is, the question of using GPs. That is a mistake. We should have clinics. What is wrong with having clinics here? If one had clinics in this country performing the abortions, one would avoid all the problems of conscience with doctors and others.
This is a really serious problem. I am strongly in favour of the woman's right to choose but I respect people's conscience and it is important that we do so. It is correct that there are exceptions in order that doctors who have a conscientious objection are not coerced into performing abortion but, from a principled point of view, if one has a deep aversion and objection to abortion, it is also a violation and is not appropriate to require people to refer because that comes close to aiding and abetting a criminal offence. It is aiding and abetting. If somebody deeply feels it is wrong, he or should not be forced into this situation. One would avoid this if one used clinics rather than GPs. It is not at all clear whether pharmacists, in providing the abortion pill, are covered by conscientious objection. If a pharmacist decides he or she does not want to and does not agree with it, he or she should be covered. It may surprise some people that I, coming from the position I do, have this respect for people's conscience but I think it is an important issue of principle.
I went to my doctor recently. A decent young man, he voted yes for abortion and all the rest of it. He was strongly in favour of it but he did say, to my surprise, that he had come across a considerable number of young women who had an adverse reaction, emotionally or psychologically, after abortion. I thought originally that this was scare tactics from the other side but, coming from the source concerned, it is obvious that it is not. I regret the fact that there is no provision for counselling after abortion for women so that they may apply for it. I understand from my colleague, Senator Bacik, that will be in another Bill.