Irish Catholic hospitals 'will have to perform abortions'
Irish hospitals with a Catholic ethos will be expected to carry out abortions when new laws on terminations come into effect, the Irish prime minister has said.
Leo Varadkar said doctors, nurses or midwives could opt out of performing procedures on conscience grounds.
However, entire institutions will not have that option.
Mr Varadkar was addressing concerns about surgical abortions raised in the Dáil (Irish parliament).
The government is drafting legislation that will allow for any woman to request an abortion up to 12 weeks, subject to a cooling off period, and will allow abortion in extreme cases between 12 and 24 weeks.
The taoiseach said the legislation would follow the model of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, which allowed for terminations in extreme medical circumstances, and allow individual medics to opt out.
"It will not, however, be possible for publicly-funded hospitals, no matter who their patron or owner is, to opt out of providing these necessary services which will be legal in this state once this legislation is passed by the Dáil and Seanad (senate)," he added.
"I'm happy to give you that assurance."
Mr Varadkar added: "That legislation will allow individuals to opt out based on their consciences or their religious convictions but will not allow institutions to do so.
"So, just as is the case now in the legislation for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, hospitals like for example Holles Street, which is a Catholic voluntary ethos hospital, the Mater, St Vincent's and others will be required, and will be expected to, carry out any procedure that is legal in this state and that is the model we will follow."