Conscientious objection, in its true sense, is seriously lacking in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.
Section 22(1) states that the Act does not oblige anyone “to carry out, or to participate in carrying out” an abortion. This means that no doctor will be forced to end the life of an unborn child. However, there is no guarantee that medical professionals and hospital staff will be free to avoid all dealings with abortion. For example, will a nurse or hospital porter be allowed to conscientiously object to assisting in preparation for the termination?
Section 22(3) applies to health care professionals who object, requiring them to refer pregnant woman who seek termination to an abortionist. A person who has a conscientious objection “shall, as soon as may be, make such arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned as may be necessary to enable the woman to avail of the termination of pregnancy concerned..” For a pro-life doctor, being forced by law to refer a woman for a procedure designed to end the life of her unborn child, this is not conscientious objection. True conscientious objection would allow for medical professionals to remove themselves completely from any and all involvement with abortion.