Thursday, 13 December 2018
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages
I was not going to contribute because I do not want to delay the passage of this Bill any longer than is necessary. We have had a respectful debate and I appreciate the honesty of Members of this House when they speak honestly, but I cannot attribute that character to Senator Ó Domhnaill. I read directly from the Bill the other day and I read directly from the pharmaceutical code of conduct and I will read it again for the record of the House. Before I even do that, the problem is that the Senator demeans and diminishes everything he has said, some of which was valid, when he tells mistruths in the House because people cannot trust anything he says. That is a real difficulty.
The Senator mentioned pharmacists in my constituency to me. I wonder if he even knows the name of a pharmacist in my constituency. Perhaps he will tell us or he will Google and find out before he responds. The point is that no pharmacist in my constituency has been in touch with me to express concern.
The core point, which Senator Bacik has eloquently put, is that conscientious objection is fully covered in this and on Committee Stage I already made it very clear that I am a staunch defender of that and would defend younger doctors from older doctors in group practice who might be bullied about that. I clearly state here in the House that anybody who has that experience anywhere in the health service, should come to me, anonymously or giving their name, and I will happily defend them here in this House, because that is not something that I would countenance or allow to happen and, as a public representative, I would feel duty bound to highlight it were it to happen. I know the Minister is nodding in assent and I know that he shares those values.
I do not want to delay any further but I refer to part 5 of principle 4 of the new guidelines on page 9 of the proposed code of conduct which makes provision for conscientious objection subject to the pharmacist referring the patient to an alternative provider if the pharmacist cannot provide a professional service or medicinal product so that patient care is not jeopardised or compromised. That is crystal clear to me and to anybody who has an honest interpretation of what is on a page in front of them.
With respect to the House, I want to support this Bill and reject these amendments. I fully respect the right of Members to filibuster, prolong and delay as much as they feel they need to and I absolutely respect those 34% of people in this country who decided to vote against the referendum and I have no issue with them whatsoever, but I do have issues with Members who would seek to mislead the House.