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General practice is not an appropriate setting to deliver abortion

By Susan Gately - 02 November, 2018

Irish College of General Practitioners

Over 600 general practitioners (GPs) have signed a letter to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) seeking an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) to discuss widespread concern around the abortion bill and the lack of freedom of conscience protections contained in it. .

The letter, publicised by the Pro Life Campaign (PLC), proposes several motions to be discussed at the EGM:

  •  That general practice is not an appropriate setting in which to deliver an abortion service and external clinical settings would be more appropriate.
  • Calling for an opt-in system for GPs who wish to deliver services rather than requiring all GPs to do so and asking that those doctors who opt in receive adequate training.
  • Calling for the ICGP to support the right of all doctors to freedom of conscience, including no obligation to refer patients for abortions.
  • Calling on the ICGP to state that those who do not participate in abortion will not be disadvantaged professionally as a result.
  • Suggesting that any 24-hour helpline should provide access to non-directive counselling rather than signposting to providers.

Under ICGP rules, there must be a minimum of 10 per cent of its members “in good standing” to have an EGM. With around 2,500 GPs in Ireland, the request from 600 more than meets the requirement represents around 20 per cent. The board of the ICGP met on Wednesday to discuss its response to the EGM request and told RTÉ it would issue a statement on it today.

Amendments to the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill will be discussed at Committee stage in the Oireachtas next week. On Wednesday, amendments were submitted to the Health Committee on the following issues:

  1. Proper freedom of conscience protection for doctors and healthcare professionals;
  2. Prohibition on abortion where it is being sought on grounds of gender or disability;
  3. Prohibition on late term abortion;
  4. Provision of ultrasound prior to abortion and offer of ultrasound to the mother;
  5. Administration of pain relief to the unborn baby;
  6. Parental notification where mother is under 16;
  7. Protection of infants born alive after failed abortions;
  8. Dignified treatment of foetal remains;
  9. Informed consent for the mother;
  10. Restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortions.

Dr Ruth Cullen from the PLC appealed to the public to continue talking to their local TDs, encouraging them to support the amendments during the Committee and Report stage debates. “No matter how your TD voted at Second Stage, these amendments are reasonable and humane and recent Amárach research shows that even many Yes voters support them,” she wrote.

Meanwhile yesterday, Thursday 1 November 2018, Sinn Féin TD Peadar Toibín was suspended from the party for six months for voting against the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 last week, defying the party whip.

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