The Master of the National Maternity Hospital has said the hospital is not an abortion clinic. He was speaking as a voluntary group, 40 Days for Life, are set to begin a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting and peaceful witness  from next Wednesday.
Abortions are taking place in the hospital under the terms of the new abortion law. Earlier this year, a healthy baby was aborted late in the second trimester when the parents were wrongly told the child had a fatal abnormality.
Writing in the Irish Catholic, 40 Days for Life member Marie Cummins said the purpose of the vigil is to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life and thus bring an end to abortion.
The campaign is a cross-denominational, faith-based effort involving prayer and fasting, and standing for life through a 40-day peaceful, prayerful, public witness across the road from the National Maternity hospital from 7am until 7pm.
She said that “all participants are asked to sign a statement of peace in which they pledge to conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner. Only signs provided by 40 Days for Life will be permitted during the campaign.”
However, the Master of Holles Street has objected to the planned pro-life witness. “This isn’t an abortion clinic,  this is a maternity hospital and the vast, vast majority of patients who are accessing the hospital from one day to the next are giving birth, having joyful occasions,” said Professor Higgins.
The campaign has also sparked renewed calls from the National Women’s Council for exclusion or ‘censorship’ zones  outside GP clinics and hospitals facilitating abortion , and a new commitment from Minister for Health Simon Harris to bring forward proposals for ‘safe access zones’.
Very few countries operate such zones on freedom of protest grounds.