‘Al­low us to give out abor­tion pills’ – GPs

Two mem­bers of Eighth Com­mit­tee ‘set to walk’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Jen­nifer Bray Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor jen­nifer.bray@dai­ly­mail.ie

A GROUP rep­re­sent­ing Ire­land’s GPs has told the Dáil Com­mit­tee on the Eighth Amend­ment they should be al­lowed to pro­vide abor­tion pills and af­ter­care to women.

The con­tro­ver­sial call for more pow­ers from the Ir­ish Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers (ICGP) came af­ter two com­mit­tee mem­bers threat­ened to step down.

Anti-abor­tion TD Mat­tie McGrath and pro-life Se­na­tor Rónán Mullen said they are con­sid­er­ing walk­ing out due to an ‘im­bal­ance’ in the guests be­ing in­vited to give ev­i­dence.

They said they were ridiculed by other TDs, and that over 20 groups who were ad­vo­cat­ing for abor­tion had been in­vited to talk at a time when, they say, only a hand­ful of pro-life groups were asked to ap­pear.

The walk­out threat fol­lows a pub­lic spat between the com­mit­tee chair, Fine Gael’s Cather­ine Noone, and Mr Mullen out­side the com­mit­tee room on Wed­nes­day. Mr Mullen com­plained that the chair had cut across him when he was ques­tion­ing World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion mem­bers.

Mr Mullen and Mr McGrath, both In­de­pen­dents, yes­ter­day la­belled the com­mit­tee a ‘sham’, but said they haven’t yet de­cided if they will re­main.

Mean­while, the GP group, which rep­re­sents thou­sands of medics, re­vealed that around 75% of women who travel abroad for an abor­tion never tell their doc­tor, or seek med­i­cal ad­vice back in Ire­land af­ter­wards.

In its sub­mis­sion, the ICGP said the le­gal sit­u­a­tion around abor­tion presents a threat to the lives and health of Ir­ish women.

The group said the crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of abor­tion has made the topic a dif­fi­cult one to dis­cuss in Ire­land. It said that women also en­dure ‘stress, lone­li­ness, guilt and em­bar­rass­ment’ be­cause they are forced to travel.

The ICGP’s Dr Bren­dan O’Shea yes­ter­day gave a pre­sen­ta­tion to the com­mit­tee on the is­sue of cri­sis preg­nan­cies. He said 21% of th­ese end in abor­tion. He said the fig­ures show that more than 5,500 women re­quested so-called abor­tion pills between 2010 and 2015. He agreed that GPs should be al­lowed care for women who want ac­cess th­ese pills.

In its sub­mis­sion, the ICGP said: ‘Abor­tion rates are low­est in health sys­tems where con­tra­cep­tion ser­vices are most read­ily avail­able. There are real bar­ri­ers to con­tra­cep­tive ser­vices in Ire­land, chiefly re­lated to cost, and in­ci­dents with ado­les­cent women re­lated to costs and their own con­cerns around con­fi­den­tial­ity.’

The group out­lined how, for a wo­man who chooses to have an abor­tion, GPs can­not re­fer or make an ap­point­ment on be­half of her at a clinic in the UK.

It said: ‘Women who re­turn to Ire­land post-abor­tion do not have ac­cess to post-abor­tion ser­vices that are avail­able in the coun­try where it was per­formed, and may be re­luc­tant to present to health ser­vices be­cause of stigma and taboo, which leads to a risk of phys­i­cal ill health.’

The ICGP said a to­tal of 92% of all UK abor­tions took place be­fore 13 weeks’ ges­ta­tion.

In terms of the Pro­tec­tion of Life Dur­ing Preg­nancy act, the ICGP said the clin­i­cal path­way re­quires a GP to make a re­fer­ral to a psy­chi­a­try ser­vice, and two psy­chi­a­trists and an ob­ste­tri­cian need to agree on the case.

The ICGP said that the whole process can be dif­fi­cult and trau­ma­tis­ing for women and that there can be de­lays of up to six weeks in get­ting a women ac­cess to a ter­mi­na­tion.

Fur­ther­more, it said women are of­ten eval­u­ated out­side their own com­mu­nity. The group said abor­tion is a ‘dif­fi­cult and po­lar­is­ing topic’, adding: ‘The con­sti­tu­tional crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of abor­tion has made this a more dif­fi­cult is­sue to dis­cuss in pub­lic. How­ever, cri­sis preg­nan­cies are a re­al­ity fac­ing women.

‘The Eighth Amend­ment clearly raises dif­fi­cult eth­i­cal and moral ques­tions for the pub­lic and health­care providers.’

‘Dif­fi­cult and po­lar­is­ing topic’

Spat: Chair Cather­ine Noone was in­volved in row on Wed­nes­day

Un­happy: Rónán Mullen

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