In a democratic republic, the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital. It should not cede control over this essential public service to any private body, never mind to a charity associated with the Catholic church, which has an appalling record of human rights abuses and an ethos that opposes reproductive rights for women.
Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular healthcare system based on compassion, human rights and the medical needs of patients. No religious values should be imposed on patients who do not share those religious beliefs. The State should remove, not reinforce, the traditional privileges that religious bodies have in our healthcare provision.
Atheist Ireland also lobbies politicians of all parties for a secular education system. They all assure us that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church the influence that it has over our education system. So why are they actively doing the same thing while spending €800 million on our national maternity hospital?
If the government accepts a 99-year lease on the land that the hospital is built on, they would be knowingly passing this problem down to future generations. The politicians of the next century could then assure their constituents that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church this influence over the maternity hospital.
Scandalously, the government is spending €800 million of public money on a project that requires the Sisters of Charity to obtain permission from the Vatican to agree to it. The Vatican is the headquarters of a global religion that poses as a quasi-State when it suits its purposes. Its primary aim is not to provide healthcare, but to evangelise people into Catholicism.
The Vatican has Guidelines for the Administration of Assets in Institutes of Consecrated Life which state that:
“The field of economics is a means of missionary activity for the church… [These assets] are ecclesiastical assets… Through financial transactions, vital choices are made which should reflect the evangelical witness… The ultimate responsibility for administrative, economic, or financial decisions can never be handed over to members of the laity or to those of other Institutes.”
The Vatican has a Charter for Healthcare Workers, which states that:
“Healthcare workers should be given a solid ethico-religious formation, which promotes in them an appreciation of human and Christian values and refines their moral conscience. There is need to develop in them an authentic faith and a true sense of morality, in a sincere search for a religious relationship with God, in whom all ideals of goodness and truth are based.”
Recent referendums on marriage equality, abortion, and blasphemy, have shown a consistent majority in favour of secular government. Our politicians should heed this message, and the government should own and directly run the national maternity hospital.