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Friday, October 8, 2010

Major pro-life victory at Council of Europe. Ireland's Senator Rónán Mullen plays key role

Yesterday evening, in a dramatic surprise victory spearheaded by Luca Volonté, Chairperson of the European People's Party group in the Council of Europe, and Ireland's independent Senator Rónán Mullen, an attack on doctors' and nurses' right of conscientious objection to performing abortions was roundly defeated.

The attack was contained in a Resolution proposed by Christine McCafferty of the UK Socialist Group based on the Report for which she had been the Rapporteur.  It proposed draconian limitations on the freedom of conscience which has always been recognised by law as a sacrosanct right of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and a cornerstone of the trust we have in them to act according to their honest conviction as to what is really in their patient's interests.

The McCafferty Resolution, which was widely expected to be carried, would have put pressure on Council of Europe Member States to bring in measures requiring healthcare professionals to perform or facilitate abortions or be officially blacklisted by the State.

In a shock reversal, however, the interventions co-ordinated and led by Luca Volonté, Senator Mullen and other Council of Europe colleagues turned the tide of opinion and in the dry words of the official record,

'At the end of a debate on the subject during which the text presented by the Committee on Social Affairs was substantially amended, the adopted resolution states that "no person and no hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion"'

The result has been widely and warmly welcomed by the pro-life community as a victory for common sense and good professional ethics and medical practice, and as an encouraging example of people of conviction, courage and persistence, making a real and significant difference, not only lobbying outside in the corridors of power and on the airwaves all over Europe, but also in the Chamber of the Council of Europe itself.

Read the Resolution reaffirming doctors' and nurses' right of conscientious objection to taking part in abortion here

Read the original draft report here

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