Ireland’s attempt to fast-track abortions in all hospitals since the December passage of the country’s first law permitting abortions has been stymied because of an unforeseen problem: pro-life Muslim doctors. While Muslims make up just over 1% of Ireland’s population, they constitute a significant proportion of doctors in the country. According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims in Ireland are on average more highly educated than anywhere else in the world.
A dependence on predominantly Muslim doctors is already hindering Cavan General Hospital from providing abortions. Cavan’s local paper has reported that only one GP in County Cavan has signed up to provide medical, first trimester abortions, and that none in its three neighboring counties have. Spokesman for the Islamic Culture Centre in the the south Dublin suburb Clonskeagh, Dr. Ali Selim, asserted that abortion is contrary to fundamental Islamic tenets, according to the Irish Catholic: “In Islam abortion is the lesser harm, conducted only to save the mother’s life if all other options prove to be useless. Life is God’s gift.”
Pro-life Muslim doctors are sabotaging Ireland’s plan to roll out a national abortion program. 🙏 https://t.co/Yqbn1DKbtr
— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) January 24, 2019
Greg Daly reports in the Irish Catholic that “Pakistan and Sudan are the two leading countries for qualification of doctors who qualified outside Ireland, and it seems likely that the majority of these doctors are Muslim; indeed, Pakistani-, Sudanese- and Egyptian-qualified doctors together make up 36% of Ireland’s overseas-qualified doctors.” Citing the Medical Council’s Medical Workforce Intelligence Report, Daly also points out that 58% of all doctors in Obstetrics and Gynecology have overseas qualifications or have graduated abroad.
According to Daly, Dr. Trevor Hayes of Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital explained that “conscientious objections from Muslims could block abortions from taking place in 12 of the country’s 19 maternity units.” It’s a concern that he has heard from some of them directly: “It’s one of the reasons why Cavan was one of the first hospitals to say that they wouldn’t be providing the service, because the consultants – all the consultants there are Muslim,” he said. “I’m not professing that I have huge knowledge about Islam, but they have religious objections to being involved in it.”
If Muslim conscientious objectors take a stand against the injustice of abortion, Irish pro-lifers in the once staunchly Catholic nation may have unexpected support. As Dr. Hayes stated, “They’re the main service providers in the peripheral hospitals. Wouldn’t it be strange if religious objections from Muslims would be the ones to turn the tide, and not the Catholics?”
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