A group of doctors are working with the South/South West Hospital Group to ensure there are accessible pathways for women who are between 11 and 12 weeks pregnant seeking an abortion, The Echo can reveal.
The START (Southern Task group on Abortion and Reproductive Topics) group is seeking to ensure women can access surgical abortions if necessary under the 12 week period.
The group said that GPs need certainty surrounding where they would send women who are at eleven weeks gestation or over.
Since the passing of legislation to regulate termination of pregnancy, early medical abortion has been, for the most part, provided to women by General Practitioners and community providers.
Speaking in the Seanad, Cork Senator Colette Kelleher (Ind) said cases where gestation is less than 10 weeks are being dealt with “quietly and efficiently in the community”.
While the legislation permits abortion under 12 weeks, pregnancies which are 10 weeks or more are to be provided for in a hospital setting for clinical reasons if surgical abortions are necessary.
Senator Kelleher said that GPs are concerned that “the availability of surgical abortion in Ireland is not clear to community providers”.
“The ‘START’ Group of GPs in Cork and the surrounding region, who provide an abortion service in the community have found that, despite initial difficulties, pathways for women seeking an abortion are relatively straightforward where gestation is between 10 and 11 weeks gestation,” she added.
Senator Kelleher added that there is a concern amongst this group of GPs that pathways for gestation over 11 weeks are less than clear.
While she said many GPs across the country have found that pathways for referral to hospital were created locally, as the need arose, GPs in several parts of the country are concerned that there are no actual pathways for women seeking termination where gestation is between 11 and 12 weeks.
“It is deeply concerning that, should such a case arise, time will be of the essence and it is important that GPs and community providers are given clear and reliable information about referral pathways for all patients who come under the provision of the Act, regardless of how close to the 12 week limit they are,” said Senator Kelleher.