Seanad debates

Monday, 10 December 2018

Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Committee Stage (Resumed)


2:00 pm

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

We all know and have discussed at length conscientious objection. The person who certifies has the obligation to start the procedure. That is really what it boils down to. Senator Ruane is certainly not in this category but in the past week, it was almost as if we had a referendum about doctors. There needs to be a degree of clinical responsibility and leadership here. The person certifying is undertaking to make sure the procedure happens. That is what he or she is doing as a clinician. If the doctor is not going to be there, he or she needs to make sure he or she transfers care and make sure somebody else certifies. We must look at this from all angles and both sides in terms of getting it right for women and doctors. Doctors were and are right to highlight that there needs to be clarity about this and I am very happy to give that clarity and make sure there is certainty. They were right that there was a flaw in the legislation in terms of early pregnancy. I had no difficulty in conceding that and we have rectified it. However, there is also that duty of care and responsibility so that the clinician who certifies according to his or her reasonable medical opinion - remember we are in a pretty expert field here because we have gone beyond the 12 weeks - then starts that procedure. The definitions in the Bill are clear as to what the obligation is. I do not think it is as onerous as perhaps it first appeared. I will provide written clarity and will happily engage in that regard.


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