Abortion legislation should provide for 'conscientious objections', doctors say

Health Minister Simon Harris speaking to the media at a Together for Yes billboard launch in Dublin, ahead of the referendum. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Josh Payne

DOCTORS have urged the Irish Government to ensure "adequate resources" are in place and those with "conscientious objections" are considered in new legislation following the abortion referendum.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) released a statement outlining their desire for doctors with "conscientious objections" to also be kept in mind as the new laws are planned.

The referendum debate divided the healthcare profession in Ireland as many doctors were vociferous advocates for repealing the Eighth Amendment.

But some GPs said asking doctors to carry out abortions without reason being offered could not be described as healthcare, with over 120 signing an open letter expressing "serious concerns" about Health Minister Simon Harris's plan.

In a statement released on Monday by the IMO, doctors urged the Government to engage with them throughout the process in order for both supporters and opposers to the new legislation to be content with the final outcome.

The statement read: "While the referendum campaign has now ended, this matter is not yet concluded. The focus must now shift to legislators and the legislative process within which a detailed legal framework to facilitate the outcome of the referendum must be created.

"The organisation expects that given the deeply held views which exist on this issue, any legislative proposals will create a regime which facilitates access to abortion services by women while also catering for medical professionals who have deeply held conscientious objections on this matter.

"The IMO expects the Government to engage with the organisation on both legislative planning and practical implementation in order to ensure that proper systems and adequate resources are in place to deal with the issues arising for the Health Service in both general practice and the acute hospital setting."