At last week’s Oireachtas Health Committee meeting, Clare TD Michael McNamara asked Marie O’Shea, author of the abortion review report, some very direct questions regarding her views on freedom of conscience protections for healthcare workers. O’Shea was at pains to point out that she was speaking stricting in her role as Chair of the Government’s review of the abortion law. Her answers, nonetheless, were shocking and very revealing.
In reply to a question from McNamara, she said she thought it perfectly acceptable that the employment prospects of doctors who expressed a conscientious objection to facilitating abortions could be impacted negatively.
In their over and back exchange, McNamara pointed out that in reply to an earlier question O’Shea supported the idea of doctors being asked at interview stage about their views on abortion. He asked her if she believed the obvious corollary of that was that it would lessen the chances of somebody with a conscientious objection being recruited in general in the health service.
O’Shea replied: “If one has, as the State does, a statutory obligation to provide termination of pregnancy services and the way of doing that is to provide funding for recruitment.”
McNamara followed up with: “My question was specific. Does Ms O’Shea accept that it would lessen the chance of somebody with conscientious objection being recruited into the Irish health service?
O’Shea responded: “Yes, I would imagine so.”
McNamara then asked: “Does she think that is acceptable?”
O’Shea replied: “If you have to meet the needs of the service, yes it is.”
Among the series of extreme recommendations in the Review Report authored by O’Shea is a proposal to single out pro-life healthcare workers and impose a statutory obligation on them to refrain from providing “misinformation” to women that could slow down access to an abortion. She offered no guidance as to who should adjudicate on what constitutes misinformation.
If a doctor made even a passing reference to the peer reviewed research highlighting the negative after effects of abortion, when talking to a woman seeking an abortion, would such a conversation be in breach of Ms O’Shea’s proposed statutory obligation? Presumably it would, as it could inadvertently delay the woman accessing an abortion.
O’Shea’s recommendation does not apply, however, to pro-abortion doctors in any way, shape or form. A doctor who misleads a woman about the gestational stage of her pregnancy or is dismissive towards her if she asks a question about when the baby’s heart starts to beat would not fall foul of the statutory obligation recommended by O’Shea, based on the way it’s worded. Doctors who hasten access to an abortion through lies or misinformation have nothing to worry about if her proposed statutory obligation is given the green light by the Government.
With each passing day, more and more is coming to light about the charade that the Three Year Review has been from start to finish. The word is starting to get out though through social media and as a result of the work of TDs who have not shied away from doing their job.
Peadar Tóibín, Michael McNamara and, in fairness, Seán Kyne were the only TDs who attended last week’s Health Committee Meeting and asked honest and probing questions of Marie O’Shea and Trinity College researcher Dr Catherine Conlon. Fair play to them for stepping forward and seeking accountability. Disgracefully, the other Oireachtas attendees at the Health Committee just used the opportunity to close ranks and propagandise for more abortion.