Some GPs 'intimidated' outside practices providing abortion services 'every single day'

Some GPs 'intimidated' outside practices providing abortion services 'every single day'

Some GPs providing abortions services are being "intimidated" outside their practice "every single day."

Since the Eighth Amendment was repealed and legislation came into force, 317 GPs have been contracted to provide termination of pregnancy (ToP) services in Ireland, as of January 2.

"Some of our colleagues, of all opinions, have been under a lot of pressure and it's been difficult, but particularly colleagues who have decided to conscientiously support this service. Some of them have been under immense pressure locally," said Dr Mark Murphy, at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP)'s annual conference this evening.

"Some practices in Dublin have had protests every day at the weekend. Some practices in the north-west, every single day there are people outside that practice intimidating staff and intimidating the patients. It is not good enough."

He was speaking in support of a motion that called for the provision of safe access zones for people accessing abortion services at their GP practices.

Following the unanimous passing of the motion, the ICGP will now call on the Minister for Health Simon Harris, to provide safe access zones for all patients attending their GP.

Of 13 motions on the ICGP's agenda, three of them related to the reality of general practice following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

One of those motions asked that the role and views of conscientious objectors to the termination of pregnancy be a respected part of the core GP training curriculum.

While not speaking on the motion, the ICGP's honorary secretary Dr Eamonn Shanahan, stated emphatically that all views "will be respected."

To be absolutely clear, the views of every person will be respected and no trainee is expected to do any specific training in termination of pregnancy delivery if that is not their wish.

"There is a need for every trainee to be aware of the law of the land, but apart from that there is no obligation on anybody to have to provide a service they are uncomfortable with," Dr Shanahan said.

A further motion related to free contraception, which members of the ICGP extended to include the provision of free vasectomies, was also passed. The ICGP will now lobby Minister Harris on this motion.

The reason behind the motion was on the back of the repealing of the Eighth Amendment and the subsequent legalising of abortion in Ireland up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The provision of free contraception and vasectomies would reduce the incidences of crisis pregnancies in the first place.

It was also decided by the college, that a report would be commissioned into the ICGP's representation at the Citizens' Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

"This report should also include recommendations on how any identified pitfalls and negative outcomes can be avoided, should a similar situation arise in the future e.g. concerning any potential legislation for euthanasia or medically -assisted dying," read the motion.

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