Tallinn, Estonia, Sep 25, 2018 / 06:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said in Estonia Tuesday he is aware of the negative feelings many young people have toward the Catholic Church and their disappointment in a lack of clear denunciation of sexual s… […]
Dublin, Ireland, Sep 24, 2018 / 03:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he intends to make it possible for women in the Republic of Ireland to have abortions free of charge, following the recent legalization of abortion in the country.
Harris said he didn’t want “cost to be a barrier” to women wanting to obtain abortions, and that it would become part of Ireland’s public health system. Funds to pay for the procedures will be included in this year’s budget, according to local media reports.
Harris stated in a speech in January that an estimated 170,000 Irish women have traveled to other countries for abortions since 1980.
Irish president Michael Higgins signed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which was voted on in a country-wide referendum in May, into law Sept. 18. The law had previously provided for equal protection of the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.
In terms of Irish law, the next phase will involve the Health Minister submitting a new law governing abortion, which is expected to reach the Irish legislature in October and could be in force by 2019, according to NPR. Draft legislation suggests that the new law could allow elective abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
Prominent Irish doctors have expressed concerns about the government’s quick turnaround to begin performing free abortions, citing safety concerns for the women involved.
Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Dr John O Brien, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, both stated that talks with the Department of Health about how abortions will be delivered have been lagging.
Boylan also advised against a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, claiming the waiting period may “act as a barrier and [make] unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions.”
Ireland is also facing a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions; surveys show that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions.
Dr Mary Favier, vice president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, told the Oireachtas Health Committee Sept. 18 that “there are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing, facilities, training.”
“They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support, the possibility of medical complications for their patients, what will be the public reaction to those who don’t provide and those who do,” the Irish News reported Favier stating.
“They have a fear of litigation, they wish to see an acknowledgement of conscientious objection and how to accommodate this in the clinical pathway but also an acknowledgement of conscientious commitment and how to support this.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadker has said that Catholic hospitals will not be permitted to opt out of performing abortions, though individual medical professionals may.
The removal of the Eighth Amendment follows the decisive result of the national referendum held in May. Only one county, Donegal, voted to keep the amendment.
Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:40 am (CNA).- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius was the only bishop to accompany him there. Now housing the Museum of the Occupation and … […]
Aglona, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 10:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Mary’s witness of standing beneath the cross of her Son teaches Catholics how to be close to those around them who are suffering, the pope said at Mass Monday in Latvia.
The Gospel of Joh… […]
Riga, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 05:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During an ecumenical prayer service in Latvia Monday, Pope Francis warned Christians to not let the faith turn into another piece of history, but to keep it an active part of their lives and commu… […]
Kaunas, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 12:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis told priests and religious in Lithuania Sunday to listen to the cries of suffering that come from the People of God, who are looking to them for hope.
“The cry of our peop… […]
Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis prayed that Lithuania become an example of defense of human rights in a gathering Sunday with former 20th-century freedom fighters, political prisoners, exiles and their familie… […]
Kaunas, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 06:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As can be seen throughout history, the life of a Christian cannot escape the sacrifices and sorrows of the cross, Pope Francis said Sunday at Mass in Lithuania.
“The Christian life alw… […]
Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 22, 2018 / 02:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his first speech in the Baltics Saturday, Pope Francis told Lithuanian authorities to take pride in their country’s history of welcoming people of different faiths and ethniciti… […]
Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sep 21, 2018 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A legal challenge to the prosecution of a Northern Irish woman who allegedly procured abortifacient medication for her underage daughter which was to have begun Thursday has been adjourned.
Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, said Sept. 20 that “dealing with the case in the absence of understanding the Public Prosecution Service response to the Supreme Court would be entirely inappropriate.”
Abortion is legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother’s life is at risk or if there is risk of permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health. Abortion pills are illegal in Northern Ireland.
In June, the UK Supreme Court threw out a case challenging Northern Ireland’s abortion law, saying the commission which brought the case does not have standing to do so. However, the judges also said the current law violates the European Convention on Human Rights by banning abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, and incest.
Morgan has delayed the hearing challenging the law, directing prosecutors to respond to the Supreme Court’s indications within two weeks.
The woman faces two charges of unlawfully procuring and supplying the pills with intent to cause a miscarriage under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
She had purchased the pills online in July 2013 for her 15-year-old daughter.
Bernie Smyth, a spokesperson for the pro-life group Precious Life, said outside the Belfast court that “the importance of this case is to send a very clear message out to the people in Northern Ireland, to women in Northern Ireland who would feel maybe their only option is to purchase very dangerous illegal abortion pills and we are saying there is another way.”
“It is vitally important that we uphold the law here in Northern Ireland,” iNews reported Smyth as saying.
Elective abortion is legal in the rest of the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks, and Northern Irish women have been able to procure free National Health Service abortions in England, Scotland, and Wales since November 2017.
Bills to legalize abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, or incest failed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016.
In its June 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that banning the abortion of unborn children with serious, but not fatal, abnormalities is compatible with the ECHR.
Northern Ireland’s abortion law could be taken up by either the Northern Ireland Assembly or the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently suspended. The Democratic Unionist Party, the largest party, is opposed to changing the law. Sinn Féin, another prominent party in Northern Ireland, backs a liberalization of the abortion law.
British prime minister Theresa May has said abortion should be a devolved issue for Northern Ireland. But Labour MP Diana Johnson is expected to introduce next month into the British Parliament a bill to decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland.