Abortion: INMO calls for conscientious objection safeguards
Nurses union has had no discussions to date with HSE about the implications of repeal
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha referred to the issue of conscientious objection for those who don’t wish to be involved in terminations. Photograph: Lisa Moyles
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation expects the same conscientious objection protections that exist for nurses under the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act to be afforded to nurses and midwives in any forthcoming legislation in the event of the Eighth Amendment being repealed.
INMO director of social policy and regulation Edward Matthews said that nurses and midwives are afforded the same protections as medical practitioners when it comes to conscientious objection to carrying out a termination of pregnancy.
He said the heads of the general scheme published by the Government in March to regulate the termination of pregnancy if people vote to repeal the amendment includes the same protections for nurses and midwives as currently exist in the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act.
“Just to be clear in terms of what we know will happen if the referendum is passed: Head 15 of the General Scheme provides for conscientious objection in circumstances where there is an emergency situation,” said Mr Edwards.
“And that parallels very closely the current protections which are available under the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act. And it also coalesces with the protections which are afforded in the codes of conduct for all professionals including nurses and midwives.
“So it’s our understanding at present that subject to a Bill being put before the Oireachtas, the situation will remain the same as it currently exists which is that in circumstances where there is an immediate threat to life or a serious threat to life, a facility exists for conscientious objection.”
Head 15 of the General Scheme states that a a person who has a conscientious objection “shall as soon as may be, make arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned as may be necessary to enable the woman to avail of the termination of the pregnancy concerned”.
INMO chief executive Phil Ní Sheaghda said that the issue of conscientious objection for those who don’t wish to be involved in terminations was one of the issues due to be debated at a closed private session by INMO delegates at their annual conference in Cork this afternoon.
“We have no interaction with the HSE about what happens if the referendum is passed. We would obviously have to sit down with the HSE to discuss any implications. What would happen for example if staffing levels were low and someone exercised their right to conscientious objection,” she said.