Doctors discussing abortion legislation move scheduled meeting to 'secret' location

Doctors discussing abortion legislation move scheduled meeting to 'secret' location

A group representing pro-choice doctors and obstetricians moved a scheduled meeting from Limerick’s maternity hospital to a “secret” location on Tuesday after concerns were raised that it would attract protests by pro-life campaigners.

Southern Taskgroup on Abortion & Reproductive Topics' meeting was to place at the University Maternity Hospital from 7pm-9pm but it was moved two hours before its scheduled start. Sources confirmed management received “emails and phone calls” in which they were accused of being “abortionists” and “murders”.

“There has been a very orchestrated campaign organised through social media. The hospital has received letters, phone calls and emails,” the source said.

Dr Brian Kennedy with a practice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, was one of a number of speakers at the meeting.

He told the Limerick Today radio programme they were concerned “pro-life activists would organise crowds of people” at the maternity hospital.

“There was actually a lot of quite frightening intimidation going on. So in the end we had to have a secret location and organise it with WhatsApp groups," he said.

Dr Kennedy said the meeting, attended by 25 GPs, was about educating them about new abortion legislation coming into force in the New Year.

Our local hospitals are where women in crisis are going to be presenting with their crisis pregnancies and with complications of termination of pregnancy etc, and that’s only in four weeks time. I think there is a real will to provide the service in our local hospitals for public patients.

He claimed the hospital was sent “horrible” posters describing management and staff as "‘serial killers’, ‘baby killers’...all sorts of awfulness”.

A spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group confirmed that UMH was the agreed venue for the meeting between GPs and obstetricians "at which care pathways for patients seeking services under the legislation were to have been discussed". The spokesperson said the decision was based on the assumption the legislation would by now have been passed.

"Out of respect for the ongoing legislative process, a decision was taken to defer the meeting.”

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