A senior Pharmacist has criticised Health Minister Simon Harris for misleading comments in relation to the protection of conscience rights in his draft abortion legislation.
Responding to comments made by Minister Harris to media outlets last weekend, Dr James Carr, a Chief Pharmacist from Louth, said ‘Mr Harris has either failed to read his own legislation or he misunderstands the profound meaning of conscientious objection.’
Carr added ‘Minister Harris told reporters that no doctor, nurse or midwife would be forced to participate in abortion services if they have a conscientious objection to them. This is simply untrue and is flatly contradicted by section 24, sub-section 2 of the legislation, which revokes the right of conscientious objection under a range of undefined circumstances. Even without such circumstances being invoked, the accommodation of conscience rights provided for in section 24, sub-section 1, is eviscerated by the morally and logistically oppressive obligation to refer outlined in sub-section 3. Furthermore, the Minister continues to ignore the conscience rights of Pharmacists, Health and Social Care Professionals, and other healthcare staff, which will be violated if the legislation passes in its current form.’
Dr Carr concluded: ‘Maybe the concept of conscience is somewhat remote to the practice of politics but, for the practice of healthcare, it is a vital touchstone. Even if Minister Harris doesn’t fully understand it, he could at least accord it some respect. Civilised co-existence in a pluralistic republic demands no less.’