Pro-life doctors' fury over motions being scrapped

A group of pro-life doctors have accused the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) of "completely sidestepping" their concerns around the roll-out of abortion services.

However, the College emphasised no doctor who has a conscientious objection to abortion will be required to provide the service.

It comes as the legislation to allow for the roll-out of abortion services in this country from January is due back into the Dáil for debate next week.

But there are concerns the abortion bill could face delays in the Dáil after pro-life TDs resubmitted amendments already voted down at Committee stage.

Over 640 GPs, 373 of whom are members of the ICGP, had asked for an emergency general meeting of the group over concerns around the provision of terminations.

The group, refusing to facilitate termination services, has described as “farcical and untenable” the decision of the ICGP board to scrap all the EGM motions submitted by members and replace them with a series of topics for discussion at the meeting.

The original motions submitted for the EGM included motions about routine General Practice not being a suitable setting in which to deliver an abortion service and securing proper freedom of conscience protections for doctors, including not being obliged to facilitate abortion through referral.

However, yesterday the ICGP said the College’s position has been clear from the beginning in that it favours an opt-in service for GPs who wish to provide the service, with the provision of a 24-helpline that patients can access directly as an essential requirement.

"In other words, no GP who does not wish to provide a termination of pregnancy service should be required to do so," an ICGP spokesperson said.

Both in the development of guidelines and in advocating for the necessary resources the College's primary concern is patient safety and quality of care.

The board of directors has called the EGM for December 2, to consult further and listen to members, and to enable debate and provide an opportunity for the board of directors to explain the College’s position.

"There will be no formal motions at this meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to consult with members and enable debate," the spokesperson said.

However, Dr Andrew O’Regan described the ICGP's decision not to accept the motions as "breathtaking".

He said: "For over five months, they have point blank refused to consult openly and transparently with GPs about the negotiations they are conducting with government in our name on the rollout of GP-led abortion services throughout the country."

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