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Bishop urges professionals to resist abortion laws


Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran

Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran

Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran

A leading bishop has called on doctors, nurses, teachers and pharmaceutical workers to “resist” the new abortion regime.

He urged such professionals to “stick together” in their resistance to the new law.

Bishop Kevin Doran said the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which is before the Seanad this week, has no moral force and must be resisted. “Catholics have no obligation whatsoever to obey this law,” he told the Irish Independent. 

He said the bishops “absolutely support the right of doctors and nurses and midwives, not only not to perform abortions, but not to be required under the law to refer their patients”, even though this will bring them into conflict with the law as framed.

The bishop’s call to people to “resist” the abortion law comes as GPs warned a small number of women experiencing a crisis pregnancy are now delaying going to UK clinics, and contacting doctors here to make appointments for an abortion in early January.

GPs and maternity hospitals have warned they will not be ready to start the service in just three weeks. This delay may lead to complications for some women, as abortions are safest if carried out as early as possible in a pregnancy.

Bishop Doran said while he and his fellow bishops would insist people obey a just law, in the case of the abortion legislation, he said it had "no moral force".

"We would not say that about legislation generally. We would say the fundamental pre-supposition is that citizens should always obey a just law. But this is an unjust law and therefore it has no moral force," he said.

The Irish Bishops' Conference last week issued a statement on the abortion bill, saying that, "in good conscience" it cannot be supported.

But Bishop Doran said: "We wanted to say more than just, 'It cannot be supported', because that is kind of theoretical...You can say in your head, 'I don't support that' but what are you going to do about it?"

He cited the example of the Dunnes Stores workers' boycott of South African goods and said the tradition of "constructive resistance" was well established.

He said doctors, nurses and midwives who oppose abortion should unite.

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"They will have to stick together because if they don't they'll be picked off individually. But what we would be saying is that they as a substantial body [should] simply refuse to participate or to refer."

He called on teachers, not just Catholic teachers in Catholic schools, "but people of integrity who believe absolutely that this is a human being" to reflect their beliefs in their teaching.

"They can't just roll over and say 'we'll teach that it's just a cluster of cells' or 'this is OK because the law says it is OK'. You would be calling on teachers to be consistent with the truth in their teaching."

He also said people working in the pharmaceutical industry may not want to be involved in making drugs used in abortions. He said if such workers were to say they didn't want to be involved in making drugs that are designed to kill, "now that takes courage".

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