GPs walk out of EGM over concerns about abortion services

GPs walk out of EGM over concerns about abortion services
Dr Tony Cox, Medical Director of the ICGP taking a call at the EGM today. Photo: Moya Nolan

Update: Dozens of GPs staged a walk-out of the Irish College of General Practitioners' Extraordinary General Meeting today.

300 members attended the meeting to discuss the provision of abortion services by GPs.

According to the ICGP, 50 or so GPs walked-out after 30 minutes over objections to the official procedure of the meeting.

However, Killarney-based GP Dr Andrew O'Regan, who is Pro Life, said about one-third of the group of more than 300 walked out when the board of the ICGP "refused to accept members' motions from the floor".

The ICGP said that while they were "disappointed" at the decision, the remaining attendees held a "meaningful debate" and that a range of views were heard.

“The College’s remit is to provide training and education for all GPs, and for those GPs who wish to offer this service," said Dr Tony Cox, Medical Director of the ICGP.

"We are aware of the concerns of those with a conscientious objection to providing termination of pregnancy services, and we have successfully advocated for an 'opt-in' service and for a 24-hour helpline as the first point of information for those who seek the service.

We are sorry that those who walked out didn’t stay to listen, as there was a meaningful discussion of all the issues on the agenda.

“The College’s priority is to provide a patient-centred, high quality and safe service for those who seek the service,” he said.

The legislation to provide termination of pregnancy services is due to come into force in January.

Earlier: GPs entitled to 'conscientious objection' in providing abortion services, Harris says

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that GPs are entitled to "conscientious objection" when it comes to providing new abortion services from January.

GPs walk out of EGM over concerns about abortion services

However, Mr Harris said they have to provide information about abortion.

The Irish College of General Practitioners is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting this afternoon to discuss issues around the service.

The ICGP says it is in favour of an opt-in to the abortion service.

Mr Harris says a helpline will also be set up to help women find doctors willing to carry out the scheme.

"No doctor, no nurse, no midwife is obligated to provide this [abortion] if they conscientiously object," he said.

But I can't fathom a situation where somebody in crisis, perhaps even a rape victim, would sit in front of a doctor and say 'I need help' and the doctor would say 'there's the door'.

"That's not what I know of doctors in this country.

"We have done things to further help, because I don't want women to find themselves in those awkward situations either, so we are establishing a 24/7 helpline that will be a medically-staffed helpline," he said.

Meanwhile, a number of Pro-Life GPs walked out of today's EGM when some of the GPs who put their names on an original letter in October seeking an EGM with motions left over concerns the college had not put motions to the floor.

Over 300 members are attending the meeting which is continuing this evening.

Digital Desk

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