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GPs to hold emergency meeting to discuss referendum result

Abortion services are expected to be GP-led.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrei_R

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of General Practitioners (NAGP) is to call an emergency meeting of its more than 2,000 members to discuss the outcome of the Eighth Amendment referendum.

The NAGP said the meeting will “consider what impact the decision might have on GPs and their patients”.

The organisation added that it “totally respects the decision of the people in the referendum outcome”.

In a statement released today, the NAGP noted that it “previously highlighted concerns it had with the narrative, in the lead up to the referendum, that an abortion service would be GP-led”.

Health Minister Simon Harris previously said that GPs will be consulted before any legislative decisions are made in this regard. When contacted by TheJournal.ie today, a spokesperson said the Department of Health is “not in a position to comment on future legislation at this stage”.

The NAGP said it was “conscious not to take a formal position on the referendum” as “each individual doctor had their own view and a formal position by a union would have interfered with the democratic process”.

As of 22 May, 1,517 medics had added their names to the Doctors for Yes list.

Ireland on Friday voted by 66.4% to 33.6% to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, which gives equal status to the mother and the unborn, paving the way for the legalisation of abortion in some circumstances. Together for Yes has called for this legislation to be enacted as quickly as possible.

The expected legislation would allow abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy (most likely via abortion pills in the majority of cases) and in very limited circumstance thereafter, such as when the mother’s life is at risk, as outlined here.

‘Helping women in crisis’ 

The NAGP said it is concerned that GPs don’t have the infrastructure to provide abortion services, adding that it wants to work with the Department of Health to “devise a respectful, safe and supportive pathway for women in crisis pregnancies”.

“The women of Ireland deserve the best care and society must ensure this happens,” Dr Mait O’Tuathail, president of the NAGP, said.

In a separate statement, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), the professional and training body for general practitioners in Ireland, welcomed “the clarity brought by the referendum outcome”.

The ICGP said, as recommended by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, the new legislation must be “accompanied by measures and policies which will seek to address and minimise crisis pregnancies, including comprehensive contraceptive services and sexual health education programmes”.

More detailed information will need to be gathered to inform legislators, and to enable the Department of Health, together with the postgraduate training bodies and the representative bodies, to comprehensively draw up the detail and resourcing of services for those with crisis pregnancies.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s This Week earlier today, Fine Gael minister Regina Doherty said the roll-out of abortion services – as well as better sexual health education and free contraception – hasn’t been costed yet but will be “a hell of a lot smaller than the cost emotionally for women who’ve had to travel for the last 35 years so I think it’s worth every penny”.

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Órla Ryan

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