The HSE it would appear are on a mission to dilute, if not totally erase the pro-life views of its maternal healthcare staff. They intend to do this through a process of re-education bearing a distinctly Orwellian title.

This was confirmed by the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme, when it clarified that as part of the implementation process for abortion services, training for all relevant HSE staff will include the provision of what is termed “values clarification training.”

This training we are told is being provided across the country on an on-going basis so as to ensure that staff are “appropriately supported” to deliver the abortion service.

In fact, we know from the published minutes of the General Board of the Rotunda Hospital that a Values Clarification workshop for theatre staff engaged in surgical abortions was conducted there in 2019 under the guidance of the World Health Organisation.

This development should cause significant concern to all those who seek to maintain the presence of effective conscientious objection within the healthcare system without becoming the subjects of indirect forms of institutional pressure.

At the theoretical level at least, values clarification is promoted as a process which supposedly enables healthcare staff to maintain their ‘personal’ beliefs around the unacceptability of abortion while further enabling them to actually assist in the delivery of the practice with ‘professional objectivity.’

In reality however, it is no such thing. Indeed, the fact that it is a process championed by various national and international pro-abortion organisations tells us all we need to know about its real intent.

I want to suggest that its real goal is situate abortion activism at the heart of maternal healthcare under the guise of seeking to increase professional objectivity.

We can see this in the very title of a study on this issue from South Africa called: Building Alliances from Ambivalence: Evaluation of Abortion Values Clarification Workshops.

That study explicitly acknowledged that the process of ‘values clarification’ is:

“designed for stake holders who may influence availability of and access to reproductive health-care. The expected outcomes may include decreased opposition to termination of pregnancy (TOP) services, community support of women seeking services, advocacy for TOP services, or provision of   direct services.”

Here is how International Planned Parenthood view ‘values clarification’ training :

“Undertaking values clarification supports participants to articulate and/or transform the personal values they hold around abortion and to act in a manner consistent with these affirmed values. In doing so, it seeks to change entrenched attitudes, intentions and behaviours that may impact the delivery of quality abortion services.”
It is a matter of real alarm then that the HSE has decided to institute this subtle but ideologically coercive process right across the Irish healthcare system. In effect, it means that the enormous institutional reach of the HSE has been pressed into service as a pro-abortion advocacy service.

What is also deeply concerning is the fact that the HSE have also confirmed that the entire values clarification process of training and support is “being provided under the umbrella of the World Health Organisation.”
This is the same WHO, let us recall, that affirmed through its representative Dr Bela Ganatra, that there was no evidence whatsoever for foetal pain during late term abortions when she appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment on Wednesday, 11 Oct 2017.

Dr Gantara’s WHO colleague, Dr Roland Johnson, also affirmed on that occasion that “abortion is a very safe procedure. It is safe at any gestational limit.”

When he was asked how long it would take for abortion to become part of the Irish healthcare system, the same Dr Johnson replied:

“If there are people here who are committed to implementing it, it should be easy. It is simple. Abortion is simple. Adding it to the health service would be very simple, but there have to be the personnel who are enthusiastic about doing it.”

We can only question at this point if these disturbing and inhumane viewpoints will represent the kind of professional or ‘scientific’ objectivity that the HSE will be imparting to its healthcare staff through its values clarification training.

So where does this leave us? In the first instance it reaffirms the truth of a key pro-life argument put forward during the course of the referendum campaign.

That argument centred around the idea of how abortion, once it is introduced into the delivery of maternal care, fundamentally erodes the two-patient culture and approach.

The mechanics of how that happens is now clear for all to see.

Healthcare staff who have pro-life views will be subject to a process of re-education and pro-abortion activism masquerading as professional objectivity.

This in turn demonstrates that the HSE, for all its pious rhetoric of respecting the right to conscientious objection is in reality seeking to erode such objections at every available opportunity.