Nurses and Midwives for a NO say Health Service cannot cope with abortion

Nurses and midwives representing over 130 members of their professions have told a Press Conference in Dublin that the Health Service cannot cope with abortion.

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Watch: See what nurses and midwives think of the government's proposed abortion regime.

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Anne Flynn

Maire Donnelly

Catherina O’Sullivan


Mary Escato

Ellen O'Shea

Marie Donnelly Infomercial

Speakers at the event urged the Irish public to Vote No saying: "We came into this profession so that we could help to save lives, and bring new lives into the world. Now, we are being asked to end them. On May 25th, we will be asked to give our approval for a law that would introduce abortion for perfectly healthy babies, and perfectly healthy mothers, for any reason. We should vote No to that".

Theypointed out that “you cannot wait 9 months for an abortion" and said the abortion proposal would further strain an health service already in crisis.

Read the statement made by Midwife Paula Barry below (if you are a nurse or midwife) you can sign up to the statement by

Midwife Paula Barry read the letter the group are addressing to the Irish people. It reads:

“To the Irish public,

We are nurses, and midwives, and we are voting no.

We came into this profession so that we could help to save lives, and bring new lives into the world. Now, we are being asked to end them.

On May 25th, we will be asked to give our approval for a law that would introduce abortion for perfectly healthy babies, and perfectly healthy mothers, for any reason. The law will also allow the abortion of a perfectly healthy on mental health grounds up to six months. In the UK, 97% of all abortions are on healthy babies, and 97% are on mental health grounds.

We are being asked, in short, to change the culture of Ireland completely. In a few short years, unless Ireland is different from every other country that has gone down this road, abortion will move from being the last resort, to the first option presented to a pregnant woman.

Even if this proposal were not horrific, it would be completely impractical. Irish medicine is in a crisis. Waiting lists have never been longer – for the elderly, for disabled children, for pregnant mothers. Abortions cannot go on a waiting list for nine months – they must be done now, before there is a risk that the baby will be born. The Government is proposing that 5,000 additional operations and procedures should be given priority over those people currently waiting too long for the help they need. On a very practical level, this is gravely immoral.

This is abortion on demand, and the Government expect GPs and hospitals to carry it out.

Simon Harris has not consulted the very people he wants to carry out these abortions. He has said he will not talk to us until the referendum has passed. That will be too late. He wants to wreck our health service first, and ask us later. This has been the pattern of his time in office – and it is time to say NO.

As the people on the front lines of the health service, and the people who do our best for pregnant women, we know the truth: No Irish woman needs to fear being pregnant in Ireland. Our pre-natal services are amongst the best in the world. If you have a problem, we will help you, and your baby, and you will be okay.

But today, we are asking you to help us.

Please do not make us, or our colleagues, take part in the abortion of healthy babies, of healthy mothers.

Please do not let Simon Harris clog up our health service with 5,000 uneccesary, and gruesome procedures, that will take priority over our patients on waiting lists. You cannot wait nine months for an abortion – abortions must come first.

Please, don’t copy the mistake they have made in Britain, where one in five pregnancies end in abortion, and where nine out of ten diagnosed cases of Downs Syndrome end in abortion.

Like many of you, we are troubled by difficult cases. When a woman is told her baby may not survive, we are there. When a woman has been raped, we are often the first to see her. We are compassionate, and we understand their pain.

But a law that would introduce abortion on this scale is not what we need, and not something we can cope with.

So please, on May 25th, vote NO to the Government’s proposals. They are unjust, they will harm mothers, they will harm our health service, and they will take the lives of perfectly healthy unborn babies.”


Also speaking at the event, Anne Flynn, nurse, said that “a lot of rubbish” was being peddled about Irish maternal healthcare:

“Every day I open up my newspaper to see another story that is flat out wrong. I read that women have to carry dead babies inside them – that is rubbish.

I read that women can’t get cancer treatment – that is rubbish.

I read that women are treated as vessels – that is rubbish.

We have had a sustained campaign in Ireland to essentially slander the entire health sector. To say that we treat women as second class citizens, purely because we do not take the lives of their children.It is offensive, it is nonsensical, and those pushing this narrative should be ashamed.

So what I say to women in Ireland today is this – if you have a problem during pregnancy, come to us.

We will care for you, like we always have.”

Nurse Marie Donnelly said that the health service simply will not be able to cope with the stress of surgical and medical abortions proposed by Minister Harris:

“Surgical abortions were 40% of all abortions in the UK in 2016, and they were 83% of the abortions done at 10 weeks, 87% of the abortions done at 11 weeks, and 84% of the abortions done at 12 weeks.

While the Government and the YES campaign pretend these will all be people taking tablets, they are lying to the public.

Every surgical abortion will require an operating theatre.

Every surgical abortion will be at short notice.

Every surgical abortion will require somebody else to be bumped down the list.

Why should I, and why should anyone else, vote for a law that would put abortions before actual healthcare procedures?

This will undermine the work of our hospitals.”

Finally, Nurse Catherina Ni Shuilleabháin spoke about her own personal experience with the 8th amendment, speaking about how it had saved her daughter:

“Had there been an abortion clinic in Kerry, had there even been a doctor handing out pills in Kerry, I would have had an abortion and not told anybody.

I did not have an abortion.

I had a baby.

A child is the greatest gift that life has ever given me. And I was so close to not accepting it.

In Britain, and in other jurisdictions, women like me don’t think twice. Because it is normal. It is the done thing. It is what is expected of you.

In this country, we are so close to importing that culture.

A culture that says life is not a gift, but a problem.

To go down this road would be a horrendous, horrific mistake.”