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Irish abortion providers have given an insight into the reality of the practice with one woman saying “morally and ethically the hardest thing definitely is seeing the little fetus, you know, at the end of it all they are formed so well, like even little fingernails .. even just at, you know, coming up to that twelve-week mark.”
Another abortion provider said that surgical abortions were “not a pleasant procedure” while a nurse said that “you kind of have to take yourself out of the room a little bit in your head” because of “the physical thought of what’s actually happening”.
The comments are included in research carried out by academics in UCD’s schools of nursing and perinatal health, and published in the Journal of Sexual and Reproductive Health.
The small-scale study was based on interviews with 13 medics working in abortion provision, including GPs, midwives, obstetricians and nurses.
Feedback in the study from those providing abortions also suggests that “continuing high levels of conscientious objection along with low staffing levels” was being experienced in the healthcare system.
The researchers said that most abortion providers “also faced isolated experiences with anti-abortion sentiments within the workplace.”
“Two GPs said that they have experienced a “definite silence” from staff both within and outside their practice. An obstetrician discussed how they were referred to by colleagues as “the terminator”,” the study found.
“Both nurses and a midwife discussed colleagues who openly expressed “judgment”, “nastiness”, and “ill-feeling” about abortion. Despite these, many believed that those who did not support care “would usually just not bring it up”, and that the isolated nature of these experiences made it easy to tolerate.”
One midwife working in a hospital said that:
“I suppose morally and ethically the hardest thing definitely is seeing the little fetus, you know, at the end of it all … they are formed so well, like even little fingernails and, you know, it’s just unbelievable really the formation even just at, you know, coming up to that twelve-week mark.
“And just even the position. A lot of the time, they just have their little hands underneath their chin, or their hands could be across their chest …,” she said.
“On a personal level, you just have to try and forget about it as quick as you can, but there’s certain cases that you don’t forget about, you know, as much as others and especially the babies that are, you know, all older babies and babies that are, you know, practically formed in every way, you know, so that can be very very difficult.”
Pro-life group, Life Institute, said that the research highlighted the “inescapable cruelty” of abortion, and the reality that human being was being killed.
“The description of the baby, a child full formed, with little fingernails , with their little hands under their chin, will paint an all-too-familiar picture of the beauty and humanity of human life in the womb. Every pregnant woman knows how amazing and utterly beautiful it is to see your child like this, so peaceful and safe. But abortion destroys that, its just horrendous that those who carry out abortions are looking at these babies too but killing them anyway,” said Megan Ní Scealláin of Life Institute.
One obstetrician told the researchers:
“I also had my own reactions when I started doing [surgical abortions], I really you know it’s not a pleasant procedure and that’s ok, we all we are allowed to have our own reactions to this … you can have a moment every now and again like “Oh my god, [this is] not quite what I’m usually used to” but that has diminished a lot. Yeah, I definitely have grown more comfortable with the procedure the more that I’ve done.”
A nurse said:
“In theatre during a termination … you kind of have to take yourself out of the room a little bit in your head cause I think if I thought about it too much, I would have gotten uncomfortable or I would have gotten upset, just the physical thought of what’s actually happening.”
Amongst GPs was this reaction:“Even though ninety-nine percent of me says yes, it’s like there’s occasionally something within my own psyche comes and says, “Oh, how am I sure this is the right thing?” … there are lots of times where I wouldn’t have a doubt at all about it.”
Some of those providing abortions said they saw it as a “privilege” or as “very rewarding”.
Life Institute said it was estimated that some 30,000 abortions had already taken place: 6,666 in 2019, 6,577 the following year, an estimated 6,700 in 2021 – and a surge to 8,156 abortions in 2022.
The pro-life group said the Rally for Life this weekend was focused on ensuring the 3-day wait before abortion was retained, and that the “shocking” jump in the abortion numbers needed to be tackled by the government.
This piece was first published on Gript.
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