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Should nurses perform abortions?

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The upcoming referendum in Ireland has focussed attention on abortion, and the care of women undergoing the procedure

Abortion has returned to the spotlight as the historic referendum to end its ban in Ireland draws nearer. Aired on 27 April, the first television debate saw Dr Peter Boylan, former chair of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists, detail his argument to repeal the eighth amendment to Ireland’s constitution:

‘The reality is that in every country around the world women will seek abortion, no matter what supports are available for them […] So if you are in favour of restricting abortion and not repealing the 8th you’re actually in favour of allowing illegal abortion in this country. So you’re either in favour of legal abortion or illegal abortion.’

‘We know illegal abortion or backstreet abortion is unsafe, that’s why the English law was changed all those years ago.’

While the law is very unlikely to change in the UK, abortion practices are still subject to constant scrutiny on this side of the Irish sea. The progress of pharmaceuticals, technology and professional development constantly push at the parameters of what is medically, legally and ethically possible. Therefore, with regards to healthcare, it is vital for nurses to know where they stand.


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