Linda Farrelly, a member of Choose Life Cavan Branch addressing the gathering at entrance to Cavan General Hospital, protesting ahead of the provision of Termination of Pregnancy services at the facility this year.

Protest at Cavan General

Members of the Choose Life Cavan & South Cavan branches gathered together on Sunday afternoon in peaceful protest over the planned introduction of termination services at Cavan General Hospital this year.

The event’s aim was to highlight to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, local politicians and HSE management that the group “vehemently objects” to the abortion plans.

Cavan and South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel are currently the only two maternity hospitals in the country where termination services are still not available.

The HSE confirmed in December that services would commence at Cavan General Hospital in 2024, however a date has yet to be provided.

“Once services commence in the hospital, the details will be made available,” read a HSE statement.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act was signed into law in September 2018, enabling greater access to termination of pregnancy services from January 1, 2019. Prior to this, the termination of pregnancy could only be performed if a risk to life of the mother could be established.

In 2019, consultants at Cavan General Hospital wrote to the then Minister for Health stating an objection to their involvement in providing terminations. A recruitment process to appoint medical practitioners to carry out abortions at the local hospital ended with a shortlisting of candidates in December 2022, and interviews in January 2023.

According to the most recent HSE statistics 6,666 babies were aborted in 2019; 6,577 in 2020; and 6,700 pregnancies were terminated in 2021. Approximately 5,052 abortions were carried out in the first six months of 2023.

Anna Donoghue, secretary of Choose Life south Cavan branch, said the group has hired a barrister - Ben O’Flynn BL - to establish the rights of HSE employees and hospital workers who refuse to carry out abortions or work where support services are provided.

“This,” she explained, “will focus on the premise of ‘conscientious objection’ - the refusal to perform a legal role or responsibility because of personal beliefs.”

Meanwhile, those at Sunday’s protest were informed that, if the majority of the HSE workers concerned boycott abortion support services, then consultants will be unable to carry out terminations.

Those in attendance at the protest came from Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan & Westmeath.

The protest also claimed to have strong support from African, Arab, Indian, Philippino and Polish health workers in Cavan General Hospital.

Holy Rosary prayers were led by Deacon Andy Brady and prayers were also said by Father P.J. Hughes, PP from Mullahoran.