A mother pregnant with twins and diagnosed with leukemia received news last month that someone with a perfect bone marrow match had signed up on a national registry. Susie Rabaca needed a perfect match for a transplant, but none of the 30 million registered people qualified. A match appeared after her story went viral online and an additional 50,000 people signed up for the Be the Match registry. She said the news was “the best Christmas gift, it’s everything.” Rabaca gave birth to her twins on Friday. —S.G.
The lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday to remove all protections for the unborn up to 12 weeks of gestation. The upper house, or Seanad, voted in favor of the bill on Thursday but still has to consider more than 60 amendments before the legislation heads to President Michael Higgins’ desk.
Abortion advocates are thrilled, but pro-life nurses and doctors are lamenting that legislators ignored their calls to protect healthcare providers who have conscientious objections to performing abortions.
Andrew O’Regan and other pro-life doctors recently walked out of a meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners, saying that the conversation at the gathering left no room for dissenters.
“We feel disrespected and not listened to by our own college board,” he said. “The very false impression has been created [by] the minister of health that general practice is a simple setting for abortion provision.”
Pro-life nurses banded together in a group called Nurses and Midwives for Life Ireland and launched a petition calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to allow them to follow their “conscientious commitment to life” from conception to natural death.
“We just feel that we’ve been ignored during the whole process,” pediatric nurse Fiona McHugh told reporters.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a statement on Thursday that “the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum have been ignored. Even what many people would have deemed to have been very reasonable legislative amendments seeking to provide women with information and to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex, race, or disability have been rejected.”
Pro-lifers fear that the government will demand that Catholic-run hospitals and other faith-based medical institutions perform abortions. Harris tweeted this summer that “all publicly funded health service providers in State will be expected to provide legal health services—[including] women’s health services. … Conscientious objection is for individuals, not institutions.”
Even for individuals, however, protections are slim: Under the legislation, providers won’t have to perform the abortions, but they would have to refer women to providers who will. —S.G.