I was surprised to hear that two midwives (Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen) who have conscientious objections against assisting with abortions have been unable to work in hospitals in Sweden.
Also surprisingly, given its affluent reputation, Sweden is suffering shortages in prenatal care, to the extent that some clinics have closed and women are being given classes about how to deliver babies in their cars. Yet, some women who would like to work delivering babies are reluctant to train as midwives, because it means working where they would be expected to bring about death as well as birth for babies, or else risk losing their jobs as these two midwives have.
Grimmark was asked by her manager, “How could you even think of becoming a midwife with these opinions?”
I suspect this very contradictory situation has emerged in Sweden for two reasons: because the concept of abortion as healthcare has become so deeply entrenched, and because the concept of the unborn child as a separate human being with his own rights in parallel with his mother’s rights (as recognised in Ireland’s constitution’s 8th Amendment) has been so thoroughly eroded.
The “Dublin declaration” signed by hundreds of healthcare professionals stated that abortion is not needed for optimal women’s healthcare.
In Ireland before 2013, procedures with the aim of ending an unborn child’s life were illegal, but any medical interventions (early delivery, cancer treatment) to save a mother’s life were entirely legal and were done – even if the baby’s death was an expected result, it was not the intention as it is during abortion.
Abortion is often presented or perceived as essential healthcare provision for women; however, this is far from true and ignores the hard reality that every abortion ends the life of another vulnerable human being. Let’s work instead to support pregnant women who are in difficult situations by creating, promoting and extending services and options that offer better care for both mother and child.
Ruth Foley, Clondalkin, Dublin 22