ALMOST 90 PER CENT of respondents to a nationwide survey of psychiatrists have expressed concern with the Government’s plan to include the risk of suicide as grounds for an abortion under forthcoming legislation.
113 of 127 psychiatrists, who took part in a survey organised by four of their peers, said they agreed with a statement that they were “deeply concerned” about plans to legislate for suicidality as grounds for an abortion being carried out.
The statement asked psychiatrists whether they believed that allowing suicide as grounds for an abortion “has no basis in the medical evidence available”.
They also affirmed that the proposals “must be based on a rigorous appraisal of the available psychiatric research and medical evidence”.
“We as psychiatrists are being called upon to participate in a process that is not evidence-based and we do not believe that this should be asked of the profession,” the statement further added.
The survey was sent to 302 consultant psychiatrists, with 127 responses received.
The Supreme Court ruling in the X Case – the first case where the Irish Constitution was found to allow abortion under any circumstances – specifically identified suicide as grounds for an abortion, on the basis that it posed a threat to the life of the mother.
Medical practitioners have regularly warned that abortion has never been identified as a valid medical treatment to treat depression or suicidal thoughts, however – with pro-life campaigners saying that formally permitting it could be abused to allow a more liberal regime.
One of the four psychiatrists who organised the survey, Dr Bernie McCabe – who has previously written to public representatives outlining similar fears – said she was “not surprised” that so many colleagues believed the government’s proposals were flawed.
“As members of the medical profession, we have a duty to our patients to adopt best practice and an evidence-based approach to everything we do. The fact is that there is no evidence that abortion is a treatment for suicidality in pregnancy and may in fact be harmful to women,” she said.
“The Government must take this into account and reconsider its proposals.”