Doctors for Life Ireland represents a broad spectrum of specialties in medicine and is making this submission because of our concerns for the impact of this Bill on our patients including mothers and unborn babies and because of the potential impact on the professional practice of doctors.
While welcoming the clarity which the proposed legislation gives to management of emergencies and life threatening illness in pregnancy, the group believes that some elements of the proposed legislation will seriously undermine the efforts of doctors and nurses to care for both mother and baby. We refer specifically to the proposal to allow for termination of pregnancy in the case of threatened suicide on the part of the mother, for which there is no objective test and no evidence- based reason to believe that termination would resolve the problem.
Twenty years have passed since the X case judgement, which did not hear any medical evidence. Medical research and expert medical opinion since that time confirms that abortion is not a treatment for suicide. The government is not obliged to legislate for a flawed judgement that does not have the backing of evidence-based medical care.
Constitutional democracy is based on the equal and inherent value of every human life and the equality of all before the law. Abortion denies the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn child and treats that child as someone who is unequal before the law.
Once a decision is made that some unborn children (i.e. those targeted for abortion) do not have the same dignity, worth and rights as other unborn children and once the principle is conceded that some human lives can be directly ended, what is to stop the targeting of other children? For e.g. those with life-limiting illnesses or palliative care needs. We believe that this legislation once introduced will inevitably lead to abortions for a wide range of reasons.
We are further concerned about implications for healthcare professionals who wish to exercise their right to conscientious objection. We do not believe this is sufficiently protected in this Bill.
We believe this Bill if passed into legislation, will have an adverse effect on patient care and the professional practice of medicine in Ireland.