Cork doctors voice concerns over GP-led abortion services

Cork doctors voice concerns over GP-led abortion services
Dr Brendan Crowley.

A number of Cork GPs are among more than 600 who signed a petition voicing concerns over GP-led abortion services in Ireland.

The petition has been signed by 640 GPs in the past two weeks.

The group has called for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene after what they described as a “failure” by Health Minister Simon Harris to properly consult GPs.

Many GPs do not feel their surgeries are appropriate for providing terminations, due to a lack of capacity, ultrasound equipment and training.

They are also concerned about providing freedom of conscience for GPs who do not want to be involved in organising abortions.

“It’s highly disrespectful of Minister Harris to say that this will be a GP-led service when he hasn’t consulted with GPs on the ground,” said Cork GP Dr Brendan Crowley.

“Minister Harris has said this service will be in operation by January 1st, yet we’re still waiting to be consulted on it.

“We are very concerned that, due to a lack of capacity and resources, general practice is not the appropriate place for abortion services,” he added.

“We’re worried that the woman will not be given the time and attention she needs and deserves.” 

Dr Crowley also cited a lack of access to counselling services in general practice as a major concern.

The GPs who signed the petition have called for an extraordinary meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), to discuss their concerns.

Dr Crowley said some board members of the ICGP have met with Minister Harris, but have not been mandated to do so by its members.

He added that the meeting scheduled by the ICGP for December 2 will be too late as much of the abortion legislation may have already passed.

“We’re also very concerned about the lack of a real conscience protection in the legislation,” explained Dr Crowley.

“The proposed freedom of conscience is just pretend and will lead to GPs who do not want to be involved in organising abortion services feeling forced to do so.

“These are concerns being raised by GPs from both sides of the referendum, the yes and no,” he added.

“It’s clear that there are still major concerns regarding abortion being a GP-led service.”

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