A group of nurses and midwives have written to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to sharply criticise efforts by some TDs to use the coronavirus crisis to further liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws. They say the push was made even as medical professionals are fighting a crisis “some say has not been seen since World War II”.

Last week, Health Minister, Simon Harris suggested that the abortion pill could be prescribed over the phone or by video conferencing, contradicting previous assurances both he and Leo Varadkar had given regarding the requirement for physical examination before the abortion procedure in the referendum.

The Minister was responding to calls from Sinn Féin and left-wing TDs such as Mick Barry and Bríd Smith to allow abortion pills to be prescribed over the phone for ‘home abortions’.

Nurses and Midwives for Life, who represent hundreds of practitioners around the country, described the move as “opportunism” and said it was “incomprehensible” that “TDs who are obsessed with abortion would use this crisis to push their agenda”.

“Many of us are working in gynaecology, theatres, maternity hospitals and emergency departments and the legalisation of abortion has created significant difficulties. Prior to the Covid 19 crisis we were already at breaking point and the increased workload in part due to abortions raises significant concerns around safety and the manner in which women are counselled – the case in the National Maternity Hospital immediately comes to mind,” they wrote.

They sharply criticised the timing of the abortion push, even as nurses and midwives are fighting to save lives and for their own safety:  “Every day we are in danger of succumbing to the virus. We have seen our colleagues carry the burden of this crisis and across the world colleagues have made the ultimate sacrifice in their attempts to save lives. We are worried about our families when we return from ICU and Covid designated wards,” the medical group wrote.

 

The letter in full reads: 

 

Dear Taoiseach,

As nurses and midwives working on the front line we are dismayed that we have to take the time to write to you about the recent opportunism by some TDs to push for changes in how abortions can be accessed at this time.

We are in an unprecedented crisis, a crisis some say has not been seen since World War II. Every day we are in danger of succumbing to the virus. We have seen our colleagues carry the burden of this crisis and across the world colleagues have made the ultimate sacrifice in their attempts to save lives. We are worried about our families when we return from ICU and Covid designated wards.

It is incomprehensible but not inconceivable that at this time TDs who are obsessed with abortion would use this crisis to push their agenda.  The fact that this discussion was given credence by Minister Harris speaks volumes about respect for life in the womb and the lives of women.

Many of us are working in gynaecology, theatres, maternity hospitals and emergency departments and the legalisation of abortion has created significant difficulties. Prior to the Covid 19 crisis we were already at breaking point and the increased workload in part due to abortions raises significant concerns around safety and the manner in which women are counselled- the case in the National Maternity Hospital immediately comes to mind.

Do politicians see the contradiction in appealing to the public to protect the most vulnerable so we can ultimately save lives and at the same time attempt to further liberalise a regime that allows for abortion up to birth with the next step euthanasia?

Politicians do not take part in the killing of unborn children and as professionals committed to upholding life we find it morally abhorrent to deliberately end life at its beginning or at any stage.  

We will continue to do everything in our power to care for our patients, to save lives and to support one another as we pray for an end to the human suffering caused by this international catastrophe. 

We look forward to your response.