Health Minister: Charging for abortions would lead to private clinics popping up around the country

Latest: The Health Minister says charging for abortions would lead to private clinics popping up around the country.

Yesterday the 8th amendment was officially removed from the constitution - following May's referendum.

Minister Simon Harris says cost can't be a barrier for people, and it's his intention that abortion services will be free of charge.

He said: "I said from the start that I don't want cost to be a barrier because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen.

"You see private clinics develop, we don't want that to happen in Ireland we want this to be part of an integrated health service, and secondly you can see people having to continue to travel.

"I want this to be provided as part of our health care system, as part of our public health care system and primarily as part of our primary care system."

Earlier: Doctors might not be ready to carry out abortions here by January.

The government wants women to be able to access terminations by the new year, but clinicians say there is still lots of work to be done.

The 8th amendment has been repealed but the laws allowing abortions haven't yet been passed.

That is expected to happen before Christmas, but doctors may not be ready to carry out terminations by then.

Dr Mary Favier from the ICGP says doctors still have lots of questions.

"There are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing, facility and training.

"They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support and the possibility of medical complications for their patients"

While Dr Peter Boylan from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there is only one hospital with an MRI machine at the moment.

They can be crucial in the diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

He said: "When MRI is used further to initial ultrasound additional information is provided in 50% of cases, the diagnosis is changed in 35% of cases and prognosis is changed in 25% of cases"

All the speakers at the Oireachtas Health Committee today acknowledged there would need to be lots done if doctors are to be ready to carry out abortions early in the new year

Doctors concerned about public reaction if they refuse abortion services

Earlier: Doctors have raised concerns about the public's reaction if they refuse to provide abortions.

President Michael D Higgins yesterday signed the legislation removing the Eighth Amendment from the constitution.

This morning the Oireachtas Health Committee will hear from some of those who will be tasked with implementing Ireland's new abortion laws.

GPs are also concerned about staffing, training and the specialist support available to help them provide the new service according to the Irish College of General Practitioners which has been surveying its members to get their concerns.

The government plans to introduce the legislation to allow abortions into the Dáil in the first week of October.

Ministers hope the laws allowing termination of pregnancy can be passed in the next few months to allow the first abortions to happen in January.

However, clinicians have warned they may struggle to train people up and provide medical guidelines in time for that to happen.

Dr Cliona Murphy from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there's lots of work left to do to introduce abortion in Ireland.

She said: "We've seen how if you don't plan things properly they can unravel, so I would certainly caution and maybe we should consider some phasing in or some pilot, that's my own personal view.

"There should be some understanding among the public that that's a very short time frame to role out separate health strategy."

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