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Government says new National Maternity Hospital will carry out abortions despite Catholic ethos

DUBLIN: Government has said the new National Maternity Hospital will carry out abortions, IVF and other clinical procedures regardless of Catholic ethos.

Concerns about clinical independence have been raised at the new Maternity Hospital after the Sisters of Charity transferred land ownership of the site to a new charity. This means that the hospital will be operated by the charity and leased to the nation.

According to the religious order, the directors of this charity are obliged to uphold the values ​​of the Sisters, i.e. the hospital is obliged to operate in accordance with Catholic ethos. However, the Government has said that there would be no interference in the clinical procedures as provided by law.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the new National Maternity Hospital, which is to open at the St Vincent’s Hospital campus, will serve the women of Ireland and will not be influenced by any religious ethos.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar backed the Taoiseach’s remark saying, the Sisters of Charity’s decision “to withdraw from healthcare, to give the land to a charity” is significant, but the issues surrounding the land ownership is on a legal basis rather than religious.

“I worked there, I did part of my training in the National Maternity Hospital, I never, ever felt that there was a nun or a priest looking over my shoulder when it came to giving the right care to women,” Mr. Varadkar said.

At the same time, the Tánaiste said that they are currently facing two challenges: there are no government representatives on the board of the new hospital, and there is an issue over the site on which the hospital will be built.

“We don’t like that there are no representatives of the government on the board as it is currently proposed. Boards make decisions, and we would like to have government reps on a board for obvious reasons,” he said.

Regarding the land issue, he said the Government would buy the land if it became available for sale. “I think I’m now hearing that Vincent’s or the Sisters may be willing to sell that land, and if they are, we are willing to buy,” he said.

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