Fidelma Healy-Eames: My party should let me follow my conscience on abortion
THE decision made by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last week to allow his party a free vote on the Government's abortion legislation has brought into focus the issue of whether or not Fine Gael should allow its TDs and senators to vote with their conscience.
But so far, the discussion has not really focused on what exactly conscience is.
In the Protection of Life in Pregnancy bill (2013), doctors are permitted to refuse to carry out abortions if they have a conscientious objection, although such doctors will be required to refer women to doctors who will carry out the abortions, which in itself could infringe on their rights. Some are already saying that if the hospital in which they are based carries out abortions they will feel under pressure, despite their stated conscientious objection.