Health professions from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been attending a conference at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle to discuss abortion and clinical practice. This is a major breakthrough step in my opinion as currently nowhere in Ireland is abortion freely available and it is only used in extreme conditions to protect the life of the mother.
Of course the fact that abortion is not available in Ireland hasn’t and doesn’t stop Irish women from aborting their babies. They get on a ferry or plane and head to Scotland, Wales or England. Whatever the opinions of the objectors, the pro-life campaigners and the churches here it is a fact of life. Indeed 1,200 Northern Irish women, all UK citizens, spend £1m in 2009 going to England to have a termination.
The Catholic Bishops headed by the Cardinal have issued a statement saying they ‘deplore and oppose’ the two-day conference.
“The dignity of the human person is absolute and inviolable. We call on public representatives to express their opposition to this conference and to promote and defend a legislative environment which respects the inherent dignity of life in all its stages.
“A conference which promotes themes such as Manual Vacuum Aspiration and Issues in Late Abortion is an affront to the dignity of the human person.
“It is gravely immoral. Respect should be shown in all circumstances for the life and well-being of both the mother and the unborn child.”
I ask what about the dignity and well-being of the women and teenage girls who are going across the water to get what they want, even though it is not available here? There may be complications both physically and emotionally that our health care providers here need to deal with both before and after the procedure.
The conference covers not only the procedures that are used as mentioned by the Bishops above, but also the support and counselling provision required those who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. These are vital services that need to be addressed even if the actual provision of a termination is still outlawed across the island. The act of aborting the foetus is not the only health issue that health care professionals may have to deal with. There are possible emotional scars afterwards or there may be gynecological issues that arise. We need to fully equip our health care professionals to deal with these eventualities or else our women will have to seek that assistance across the water as well, once more away from the people they love.
My personal stance is a pro-life pro-choicer. If I was ever asked for advise I would try to counsel any friend/s to try their best to go with the pregnancy to term. There are alternatives, even if they don’t feel able to cope with raising the little one themselves. However, I know that choice isn’t easy for everyone therefore I accept the right of the parents to choose what is best for them including the option to abort.