Harris Putting Women at Risk with Rush to Abortion - Doctors


Doctors have sent a stark letter to Health Minister Simon Harris warning that women having abortions could be put at risk by the rush to meet his January deadline. The strongly-worded letter from Dr John O’Brien, President of the Irish College of General Practitioners comes amid growing concern that the implementation of the abortion law by January is being rushed leaving GPs and maternity hospitals unprepared.


The letter warns: “It is critical that all of these requirements are available and fully operational for safe provision of this service to patients at the beginning of January 2019. Failure to do so will result in providers in the community coping with an unsafe service with potential for adverse events and system failure.”


Dr O’Brien said that “from the outset, the college has consistently and regularly stated that our primary concern is that the service for women must be safe and patient centred”.


He further added that “all GPs must be provided with clarification and further details for example on the 24 hour helpline; that there will be free, readily accessible and immediate ultrasound as deemed clinically needed by the doctor and where those sites will be located; that there will be free, readily accessible and immediate access to secondary care where required, etc. It is essential that GPs have full information as to which services are in place, operational and accessible in their areas.”


“If these are not confirmed and in place,” he explained, then “a high quality, patient centred service is jeopardised and patient care will be compromised”.


This strong expression of concern from GPs comes as leading obstetricians have also warned that maternity services are ill-prepared to provide abortions in January. The professional body for obstetricians and gynaecologists is to hold an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the planned introduction of abortion. Some members of the institute believe the provision of services should not go ahead next month until the risks are assessed.


The Institute said the meeting would give members the opportunity to express an opinion on the introduction of abortion services, particularly the safety and readiness of such services. “It must be emphasised that the institute has no role, authority or responsibility in the actual delivery of obstetric and gynaecological services which is the remit of the HSE,” the Institute added.

Irish Independent. December 8. Irish Examiner. December 7.

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