Peter Boylan: Still 'serious issues' to resolve before abortion service begins

Peter Boylan: Still 'serious issues' to resolve before abortion service begins
Dr Peter Boylan

The Government's advisor on the roll-out of abortion services has said there are still serious issues around staffing and infrastructure.

President Michael D Higgins signed the bill legalising terminations into law yesterday and doctors have been issued with clinical guidelines.

Dr Peter Boylan has said there are still issues to be overcome but insists there will be a service in place by January 1.

Dr Boylan said: "There's a range of services that need to be implemented across the hospital system, there are serious issues with infrastructural deficits and with staffing issues and so on.

"There are also serious and genuine reservations by hospital-based consultants about their ability to provide the service, but there is a huge amount of work going on in the background to allay those concerns."

Meanwhile, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has said that it has completed its preparations for the introduction of the services.

It intends to begin providing abortion care at its clinics in Dublin city centre and Tallaght on Monday, January 7, 2019, as long as the key elements of HSE services are finalised.

Niall Behan, IFPA Chief Executive, said: “We’re ready and we’re dedicated to providing abortion care to women in Ireland for the first time.”

"We’re now at a place where we can provide safe and legal abortion care for women and girls in Ireland and this is truly momentous. We’ve been working hard to ensure that we can deliver the best possible care.”

They said it is down to the Department of Health and the HSE to ensure that women who seek abortion care have timely access and don’t encounter any barriers.

IFPA Medical Director, Dr Caitriona Henchion, said: “Our abortion care service can only begin as planned if the medication and pregnancy tests are supplied on time, and the protocols for rhesus testing and the provision of anti-D are finalised. Most important is the referral pathway.

“Our clinics will be providing early medical abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation. Patients who have their first appointment with us and are between nine and 12 weeks pregnant will need to be referred for hospital care. We cannot arrange those first appointments until we are certain those referral pathways are in place.”

The IFPA has been providing crisis pregnancy counselling and post-abortion care for many years and these services will continue.

Mr Behan said: “Our free non-directive counselling service will be available for anyone who chooses to use it, at our ten counselling centres around the country. Our post-abortion care service will be available to our own patients and to women who have travelled for a termination.

“We will also continue to give support and information to women and girls who will need to travel abroad for care because they fall outside the provisions of the legislation.”

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