Irish hospitals must perform abortions if funded by government

Irish hospitals that receive government money will be expected to carry out abortions when new abortion laws come into effect.

This includes hospitals with a Catholic character, the Irish prime minister says.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says doctors, nurses and midwives could opt out of performing procedures on conscience grounds.

If they want to keep government funding, entire institutions will not have that option, however.

Irish citizens voted by a landslide in May to liberalise the country’s abortion laws.

The new law currently being drafted will allow abortions in and up to the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Varadkar says the new law will keep certain aspects of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013.

This permitted individual medical professionals to refuse to perform an abortion if it clashed with their conscience.

It also allowed abortions up to 24 weeks in extreme medical cases. This is at least two weeks past the point newborns have survived a premature birth.

Last month nearly two in three Irish voters opted to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution, which recognised the equal right to life of both the pregnant woman and the unborn.

At the time, Varadkar, who had campaigned for a repeal, welcomed the result. “What we have seen today is the culmination of a quiet revolution [that has been taking place] for the past 10 or 20 years.”


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