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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Reilly says doctors cannot refuse abortion if a pregnant woman is at risk of dying

Health Minister Dr James Reilly
Health Minister Dr James Reilly

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has said that doctors cannot refuse to perform an abortion if a pregnant woman is at risk of dying.

Although the abortion bill allows doctors to avail of a conscientious objection to abortion in a non-emergency situation, Dr Reilly said this did not apply in an emergency.

"You have an obligation to save the life of the person in front of you," he said.

The Oireachtas Health sub committee is currently debating and voting on 89 proposed amendments to the abortion bill.

Fianna Fáil TD Eamon O'Cuiv said that he did not believe doctors would oppose taking action in such circumstances because they were obliged to preserve the life of the mother. He said the requirement to carry out an abortion on the grounds that the mother was suicidal was another matter.

Dr Reilly said there was no right for a public hospital to refuse to carry out an abortion where a woman's life was at risk.

But he admitted under questioning from Mr O'Cuiv that the only sanction he could impose on the hospital for refusing was a withdrawal of its public funding.

"Thats's quite true," he said.

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