The Rev. Kevin Doran told The Irish Times performing abortions would violate the "ethos" of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. The hospital was one of 25 specifically named in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act as "appropriate institutions" to perform abortions.
The Mater was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1861 and continues to be part-owned by the order. Doran said he hopes Minister for Health James Reilly would allow hospitals leeway, the Times said Wednesday.
"The Mater can't carry out abortions because it goes against its ethos," Doran said.
A 1983 amendment to the Irish Constitution gave unborn fetuses an explicit right to life. But opinion in the country appears to be shifting.
After the new law passed, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said banning abortions when fetuses are known to have severe abnormalities is a "great cruelty" and forcing rape victims to continue pregnancies an "unacceptable cruelty."
Galway Pro-Choice said this week it is launching a campaign with other groups around the country to amend the Constitution on abortion.
"The legislation is extremely restrictive," Ciara Dalstra, a member of the group, told the Galway Advertiser. "It does not cover cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, rape or incest. These women have been left out and abandoned. Also, as a mother, I look at the case of Savita Halappanavar, and it terrifies me. If I was in the same situation, the legislation may not protect my health or may only allow intervention too late, and my little boy would be left without his mother."
Halappanavar died of an infection after she went into premature labor and doctors at Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion while they could detect a fetal heartbeat.