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FactFind: How many doctors support repeal?

There are Doctors for Yes and the Medical Alliance for No – but what are the numbers exactly?

WE HAVE ASKED a number of representative organisations where their members stood on the issue of repealing or retaining the Eighth Amendment.

The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists articulated its position in January, supporting the recommendation of the Oireachtas committee that the Eighth Amendment be removed.

“The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists supports the recommendation of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that Article 40.3.3 be removed from the Constitution. The Institute looks forward to continuing to assist in informing legislation to enhance women’s health and safety.”

The Institute surveyed all members in a survey and 81% of the 79 respondents supported repealing the Eighth Amendment. The institute has 200 members.

All 19 maternity units are represented by the organisation. Nineteen out of 25 members of the executive attended an extraordinary general meeting held in January. There was one abstention and 18 others voted in favour of repeal at that meeting.

Seventeen obstetricians from the South/Southwest Hospital Group this week signed a letter calling for the head of the organisation, Dr Peter Boylan to either step back from the campaign or his job. However Boylan said seven of those who signed it were not even members of his organisation.

The Master of Holles Street Dr Rhona Mahony is in favour of repeal and is campaigning with the Together4Yes group.

The Master of the Rotunda Professor Fergal Malone spoke at the Eighth Amendment Committee’s hearings, and told of the barriers for couples who receive a fatal foetal diagnosis and the dangers of having to split healthcare between two jurisdictions – he also shared the example of one woman who died on a flight home after undergoing a termination.

On 21 May, he made a fresh statement calling for a Yes vote. He told reporters: ”We’re very concerned at patients sourcing medications from the internet, in good faith, hoping to arrange for their own healthcare but not knowing what it is that they’re actually taking.”

The Coombe’s Dr Sharon Sheehan hasn’t publicly taken a position on the referendum and could not be reached for comment.

The Irish Medical Organisation - which represents thousands of doctors in all disciplines – said it hopes “for a compassionate, informed debate which leads to clarity around the legal context in which doctors can make various decisions and which facilitates the right of individual doctors to act in line with their conscience confident that alternative, legally sound medical support will be available for the patient in question”.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland does not have a position on the forthcoming referendum.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) is not taking a position on the referendum.

The head of the National Association of General Practitioners told that the group is taking a neutral stance on the 25 May vote.

As of 22 May, 1,517 medics have added their names to the Doctors for Yes list. All of these doctors have to provide their Irish Medical Council registration number when they sign up.

They were not required to provide their speciality when they signed, but of those who did:

  • 400 are listed under General Practice
  • 113 are listed under Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • 104 are listed under Psychiatry
  • 88 under Anaesthesia
  • 79 under Paediatrics
  • 79 under Surgery
  • 36 under Emergency Medicine
  • 29 under Radiology
  • 8 under Oncology
  • 294 under medicine. asked the Medical Alliance for the 8th if they had a similar list of medics who are supporting a No vote and was informed they did not. On the group’s website, however, there is a list of committee member names, including six doctors and two nurses.

number of GPs and nurses representing members of their profession who support a No vote held a press conference on 13 May in which they argued that the government’s draft legislation could lead to “a disaster” for the health service.

A group of six Donegal GPs also issued a letter saying they refute the pro-choice movement’s claims that the Eighth puts the lives of pregnant mothers at risk.

Across all disciplines, the Irish Medical Council has 21,795 doctors registered on its books.’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

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