Catholic Bishops show their hypocrisy about freedom of conscience in two new abortion posts

The Catholic Bishops are complaining that applicants for two new medical posts at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin will be required to carry out elective abortions if appointed. The Bishops say that this “totally undermines the whole concept of freedom of conscience which was guaranteed in the recent legislation”.

But these two particular posts, as consultants in obstetrics and anaesthesia, were funded by the HSE specifically in order to provide for the termination of pregnancy services. The conscientious objection guidelines for staff members remain unchanged. Why would you want to apply for a post that is established specifically to provide abortions, if you don’t want to provide abortions?

The hypocrisy of the Catholic Bishops is clear when you look at how they run State-funded schools. The Bishops have no problem with refusing access to the teaching profession to atheists, or members of religious minorities, if they refuse on the basis of conscience to take the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies or to uphold a Catholic religious ethos in schools.

The Bishops control most over 90% of Irish primary schools, and over half of second level schools. Some of the remaining ETB schools also have a religious ethos because of various agreements with the Catholic Church. Minorities can train to be a teacher but will have difficulty getting a job in most schools if they don’t get the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies, or uphold a Catholic religious ethos. Among other consequences, this puts many immigrants in a position whereby they can’t access the teaching profession on the grounds of conscience.

So, in the hospitals, there are conscientious objection guidelines for staff who don’t want to deliver abortions, and the State is trying to ensure that people who do deliver abortion services do not have a conscientious objection to doing so, including in these two new posts that are being funded specifically for that purpose.

Meanwhile, in the State-funded schools that the Catholic Bishops run, there is an across-the-board denial of the freedom of conscience of minorities who are trying to get a job teaching. It seems that the Catholic Bishops only support the right to freedom of conscience when that conscience agrees with their own position.


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Atheist Ireland