Doctors threaten legal action in abortion services row

The Business Post

Francesca Comyn

The issue of GP-led abortion services has proved highly contentious for various reasons including conscientious objection, workload and an existing services contract perceived by many to be sub-standard

The professional body for GPs is facing the threat of legal action from its members if it does not row back on its refusal to hold and extraordinary general meeting on the provision of abortion services. . .[Full text]

GPs are ignoring democracy on abortion issues

Doctors’ group is demanding members fall into line without expressing their concerns

The Irish Times

Breda O’Brien

The board of the Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional body for general practice in Ireland, has refused for the second time requests from some of its members to hold an emergency general meeting to debate motions on abortion.  

Why is the ICGP so afraid of democracy? This is only the latest twist in a long-running saga that began when Simon Harris announced in a radio interview that abortion services were to be GP-led.

This was the first that GPs had heard of it. They were already over-worked, highly stressed and leaving the profession in droves. Many were stunned that there had been absolutely no consultation with GPs. . . [Full text]

Introducing abortion: The story so far

The Medical Independent

Catherine Reilly

The introduction of routine abortion services up to 12 weeks of pregnancy has represented a seismic change in Irish reproductive healthcare.

However, the political rush to commence services in January has led to some access problems. Moreover, medical bodies needed to scramble to finalise clinical guidance on time and sections of the Medical Council’s ethical guide, including on conscientious objection, are still under review.

A spokesperson for the Medical Council told the Medical Independent (MI) that revised wording will be “brought to the Council for approval followed by publication in April”. Conscientious objection and the definition of referral are matters of huge contention to pro-choice and pro-life doctors, contributing to what some describe as a fracturing of general practice, where most terminations are taking place (see panel on page 5). . . .[Full text]

Head of GPs says Simon Harris has antagonised pro-life GPs in an “incredibly unhelpful” way

The Life Institute

Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail, President of National Association of GPs has criticised an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon for antagonising pro-life GPs.

In an article in this week’s Medical Independent on the issue of conscientious objection, Dr Ó Tuathail said:

“Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris made comments that were incredibly unhelpful. I really felt that the Minister was antagonising pro-life GPs in the rhetoric that has been coming from him, which is really regrettable and really unfortunate.” . . . [Full text]

Third petition as GPs ‘fight’ for conscience rights on abortion

The Irish Catholic

Chai Brady

Hundreds of Irish GPs have submitted a third petition to their representative body calling for a vote on abortion and freedom of conscience.

Approximately 600 GPs hand-signed the petition calling for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

Dr. Orla Halpenny from Doctors for Life said that “members are very angry” not only with the issue of abortion but several actions taken by the ICGP. . . [Full text]

Obstetrics and anaesthesia job pre-conditions dismay bishops

Requirement to carry out elective abortions part of National Maternity Hospital job spec

The Irish Times

Patsy McGarry

The Catholic bishops have expressed regret at pre-conditions for applicants in recent advertisements for medical posts at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin.

One of the main preconditions for applicants for the posts in obstetrics and anaesthesia was a requirement to carry out elective abortions if appointed. . . [T]he bishops said “this precondition runs totally counter to a doctor’s constitutional and human right to freedom of conscience. . .” [Full text]

State hospitals must provide abortion if Catholic clinics will not – report

Patient’s life must take precedence over ethos in emergencies, says report

The Irish Times

Paul Cullen

State-owned hospitals should provide abortions in situations where neighbouring Catholic institutions are unwilling to do so, a new report suggests. . . the report says it is clear there will be situations where abortions have to be carried out in acute hospitals, rather than maternity units. There are seven Catholic voluntary hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Limerick . . . [Full text]

Abortion and the medical profession

The Irish Times (Letter)
Reproduced with permission

Dr. Noreen O’Carroll

Sir, –

Dr Mark Murphy states that doctors who are opposed to abortion are in no way affected by the new service and their conscientious right to objection is respected.

In fact, doctors who have a conscientious objection are legally compelled to make arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned to someone who will terminate the pregnancy. For doctors who cherish human life from its origins, that is tantamount to making them accomplices in taking the life of a developing baby.

This is an abuse of conscience and contrary to the practice of medicine in the spirit of the Hippocratic oath which prohibits the direct intentional taking of human life.

Dr Murphy, who you omitted to mention is on the staff of the department of general practice at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, is one of a minority of GPs in Ireland who have signed up to provide abortion services; the vast majority of GPs have not done so – 274 was the figure recently reported by the HSE.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of a pro-life group; although as an ordinary citizen, I have consistently advocated for the life of the developing baby to be legally protected and have voted accordingly.

– Yours, etc, Dr Noreen O’Carroll, (Lecturer in Medical Ethics, RCSI), Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Leading Irish hospital makes willingness to do abortions a condition of employment


Michael Cook

Only doctors who are willing to perform abortions will be considered for two consultant posts at Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital. The hospital is advertising for a consultant anaesthetist and a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology.

According to a statement from the NMH the positions include the “provision of termination-of-pregnancy services, and are for individuals willing to contribute to the provision of these services”.

A source at the hospital told the Irish Times that conscientious objection guidelines for existing staff would remain as they were before.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan, of Northern Ireland, recently warned that the Republic would be entering “uncharted territory” if it made willingness to perform abortions a condition of employment. What if doctors changed their mind, feeling in conscience that they could no longer participate in abortions, she asked.

After a referendum last year which allowed abortion to be legalised, Ireland is expanding its services quickly to provide abortions. The health department’s budget provides €7 million in funding for abortion services this year and €12 million in 2020.

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Health: The number of GPs who have signed up to provide abortion services has risen to 274, figures show

Pro-choice groups write open letter expressing fear people being left behind

The Irish Times

Paul Cullen

The number of GPs who have signed up to provide abortion services has risen to 274, according to the latest figures from the HSE.

Ten hospitals are also providing the service, which was introduced at the start of January.

However, pro-choice organisations have claimed a lack of progress in implementing abortion, as well as restrictions on services, means it is available only to “a select few”. . . [Full text]