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With a health service in chaos, why is Donnelly's priority abortion?

After promising voters it would be "rare", this government has presided over a situation where abortion rates have rocketed. The numbers are absolutely shocking: shooting up to 6,666 in the first year, jumping to 8,156 in 2022 - and now, if early indicators are correct, perhaps 10,000 abortions in 2023.

Yet, the sole focus of the government seems to be on making things worse - and fretting that there isn't yet enough access to abortion despite the soaring numbers.

Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly, who you might remember back in April seemed pretty pleased and enthusiastic to announce on the News at One that he thought 8,500 women had availed of abortion services in Ireland in 2022, has now said that that five more hospitals will start carrying out abortions in December.

The Irish Times reports:

The commencement of terminations in St Luke’s hospital, Kilkenny; Letterkenny University Hospital; Wexford General Hospital; Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise; and Portiuncula hospital, Ballinasloe, follows the recruitment of staff specifically tasked to provide the service.

With this latest expansion of the service, 17 out of 19 maternity units in the Republic will be carrying out terminations.

It is expected terminations will be provided in the two remaining units – Cavan General Hospital and South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel – next year.

The paper also explained that Stephen Donnelly, despite the chaos and many failings in the health service for which he is accountable, had made abortion provision one of his "main priorities".

That's pretty telling, isn't it? We've learned since the Budget that HSE has announced "a freeze on the recruitment of junior doctors, healthcare assistants, home helps and other frontline staff due to financial constraints" - and the Minister is obliged to make savings of more than €600 million in health spending next year.

The Irish Medical Organisation described the cuts and the freeze as dangerous, saying it would “add to the chaos” in the health service and would have a negative impact on patient care.

Yet the Minister seems to have endless time and cash for abortion. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

Imagine, at a time when Irish children are still waiting years for scoliosis procedures (a problem the former Health Minister promised would be solved by 2017), when, according to the latest figures, we have over 476,400 people on active waiting lists in this country waiting longer than the Sláintecare maximum wait time, when there is overwhelming pressure on emergency departments, one of the  Minister's "main priorities" is abortion - the ending of a life. 

Consider that when we are confronted with an EU report stating that Ireland is the hardest place across all Member States to access mental health support and help, abortion continues to be a primary focus for the lame duck Minister, who has overseen the spending of tens of millions of euros on abortion while we're being told to expect funding cuts for cancer services, maternity strategies, and new drugs.

In the last year, we have tragically witnessed people dying on trolleys in major Irish hospitals, while such serious shortcomings in our health service has become a sad and familiar reality in an Ireland which prides itself on being advanced and modern and compassionate. A&E departments in this country have been likened to “cattle markets,” while there appears to be a failure on the part of the media to hold the government and ministers to account.

No-one seems to be held responsible for the shambles that is Ireland’s national health service, and the Minister's trumpeting about wider abortion access is a handy deflection for his inability to bring ongoing issues under control. 

He'll get nothing bur praise from most of the campaigning media who are only to happy that the Minister has ticked one of their boxes in terms of the their relentless support for abortion.

Our Health Ministers come across as abortion-obsessives, from Simon Harris’s endless tweets about the issue, to ruling out humane measures to grant pain relief for unborn babies in late term abortion. 

His replacement, Stephen Donnelly is also pumping millions into abortion expansion, and has introduced a ‘Safe Access Zones’ Bill on the basis of unfounded claims that women are being harassed and targeted at abortion centres.
In truth, the Bill is about clamping down and outlawing any individual and public dissent to a government abortion regime which continues to oversee an escalating number of abortions – when voters were bought over with the government’s ‘safe, legal and rare’ phrasing of 2018.

Our own public health agency spent close to €1 million of taxpayers’ money in the last four years alone to ensure that its My Options pregnancy hotline, which directs women to abortion, was prominent ahead of pregnancy care centres in online search engine rankings.

Despite there being over 400 GPs across the country providing abortion pills, that number is not acceptable to Stephen Donnelly, who has told the Dáil that he is working to increase that number.

Indeed, all 19 of Ireland's hospitals must provide abortions, according to Donnelly, who has said the situation of having any hospitals as outliers is "not acceptable to me" after unveiling the abortion review.

Curious, isn't it, that although one of the many crises facing the HSE is the severe lack of hospital consultants - with an estimated 900 roles either vacant or filled on a temporary basis at last count, a situation causing increased risk to patients and staff burnout - the Minister was able to put in the effort to find consultants who are willing to perform abortions.

There's another question here too:

But Donnelly is determined, it seems, not to listen to those pro-life doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals across the country, who are, according to prominent Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Trevor Hayes, willing to leave medicine rather than perform abortions. He told thousands of people at Dublin's Rally for Life this summer that the review process was used as an attempt to bully pro-life healthcare professionals,

“We are told that doctors and nurses should be informed at interview that contracts of employment will specify that it is mandatory to carry out abortions when requested – and that they would be fired if they refused," Dr Hayes pointed out.

He rightly posed the important question: “At a time when our maternal health care services are stretched to breaking point, does the Minister think a bullying tactic like this is going to work?”

“Does he think that the public would agree with the contention that badly-needed doctors and nurses will be fired if they won’t carry out abortions? The answer is obvious. They would not,” the consultant obstetrician added.

He said that such a path would be "wholly discriminatory and entirely unethical" - and would drive many excellent medical professionals away from the health service. The reality, as Dr Hayes highlighted. is that the vast majority of Irish doctors do not carry out abortions, nor do they want to.

Minister Donnelly may feel that at present, he only wants to listen to abortion campaigners, and not to dissenting voices, but the truth is that there will come a time, as we approach another record-breaking year of abortions under repeal, that people in Ireland will realise that we are aborting our future.

They will realise too that there has been an obsession with painting pro-lifers as radical and out of step, but the extremism has been on the part of our government, who continue to obsess over increasing abortion access at a time when Ireland is facing a demographic crisis due to our own falling fertility rates and when the health service in general is in chaos.

This article first appeared in Gript and is published here with permission


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