Irish Medical Organisation

Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 Hearings - IMO Addresses Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children

IMO President - “While IMO policy is against abortion…we have an obligation to engage in the debate about the legal framework being established.”

Friday 17th May 2013. Dr. Matthew Sadlier, President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), today said that while the official policy of the IMO was against abortion, the organisation had an obligation to engage in the debate about the legal framework which is being established under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013. Dr. Sadlier was addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children special hearing on the bill.

Dr. Sadlier said that the IMO had debated the issue of abortion on a number of occasions and when it had done, it had found that that diversity of opinion that is seen in the wider community was “mirrored closely” amongst its own members. He noted that the official IMO position on the issue dates back 20 years to 1993 and states that the IMO endorses the principle of respect for all human life, born and unborn, and that it rejects abortion.

However addressing the Committee Dr. Sadlier said: “the IMO accepts that that whatever our own policy position might be, our members operate within a legal framework. Therefore without turning our backs on the formal policy position we have adopted, we have an obligation to engage in the debate about the legal framework that is being established.”

He continued; “we understand that it is the role of the people through referendums and Deputies and Senators through the Oireachtas to frame the laws under which this country operates and …..we accept that the Government is now moving to introduce a legislative framework.”

Dr. Sadlier said that the IMO had concerns with the Head of the Bill as published which he identified as follows:

• The patient’s health and welfare is paramount

• The legislation must provide adequate clarity and protection to healthcare professionals who have to operate under it.

• The legislation must be practical and realistic for application in a hospital environment

• The legislation must be sufficiently resourced

• Where issues of morals are concerned – such as abortion - the laws must provide adequate flexibility to ensure that an individual can abstain from engaging in an activity which he/she may deem, in conscience, to be immoral without jeopardising the right of the relevant patient to all the facilities and treatments which the law provides.

Dr. Sadlier also identified specific concerns in relation to the published Heads of the Bill.

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