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Psychiatrists to address Oireachtas abortion hearing today

The hearings on the wording of the heads of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 will continue until tomorrow.

Chair of the Health committee TD Jerry Buttimer
Chair of the Health committee TD Jerry Buttimer
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE OIREACHTAS HEARINGS on the abortion bill will resume today.

The Oireachtas Health Committee hearings began last Friday, when the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, was among those who spoke about the heads of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013.

These hearings follow this first step in a multi-step process that will eventually lead to legislating for abortion in Ireland under specific circumstances.


The health committee is discussing the wording of the bill, as the heads of bill is not the final wording of the proposed law. The members of the committee are hearing the opinions and advice of experts from the medical, legal and psychiatric fields on the proposed bill.

The chair of the committee, Jerry Buttimer has described the proceedings as “pre-legislative scrutiny”. On Friday, Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, and Dr Peter Boylan of the same hospital spoke, as did representatives from the Irish Medical Council and Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists amongst others.

Minister Reilly was criticised for not taking questions after giving his statement on Friday, while it also emerged that conscientious objection cannot be invoked by hospitals and the abortions will only be carried out in hospitals.

Doctors told the committee that they think the 14-day review period is too long, but also that they don’t think that the number of women seeking abortions in circumstances where the law allows it will be high.

Today, psychiatrists and other medical experts will give their thoughts on the bill, including Dr Anne Jeffers of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, and Claire Mahon, President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

The proceedings can be watched live on UPC Channel 207 and online at the Oireachtas website. They will also be streamed live on TheJournal.ie, where our reporters will be live-blogging the hearing throughout the day.

Monday, 20 May

9.30am – noon: Psychiatry and Perinatal Psychiatrists

  • Dr Anne Jeffers, Consultant Psychiatrist, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland
  • Dr Maeve Doyle, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland
  • Dr Joanne Fenton, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist
  • Dr Anthony McCarthy, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist
  • Dr John Sheehan, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist

12.15pm – 2.45 pm: Psychiatry

  • Dr Yolande Ferguson, Consultant Psychiatrist, Tallaght Hospital
  • Dr Peadar O’Grady, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
  • Prof Veronica O’Keane, Consultant Psychiatrist, Tallaght Hospital & TCD
  • Dr Eamonn Moloney, Consultant Psychiatrist, Cork University Hospital

3.30pm – 6pm: Psychiatry

  • Prof Kevin Malone, Consultant Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s University Hospital & UCD
  • Dr Bernie McCabe, Consultant Psychiatrist, Navan Hospital
  • Dr Jacqueline Montwill, Consultant Psychiatrist, Mayo Mental Health Service
  • Dr Sean O’Domhnaill, Consultant Psychiatrist

6.15pm – 8.45 pm: Other Medical Specialties

  • Claire Mahon, President, Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation
  • John Saunders, Chair, Mental Health Commission
  • Dr Kevin Walsh, Consultant Cardiologist, Crumlin & Mater Misericordiae Hospital
  • Dr Janice Walshe, Consultant Medical Oncologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Read: A crash course in today’s abortion legislation hearings>

Read: 12 interesting moments from the Oireachtas abortion hearings>

Read: As they happened: Oireachtas hearings on planned abortion laws>

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