'I don’t want cost to be a barrier' - Simon Harris confirms abortion services will be free
Women who avail of abortions will not have to pay for the service.
Health Minister Simon Harris said today there would be no fee to the patient.
He said: “Yes it is my intention that services will be free. I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier.
“If cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things could happen – you see private clinics develop, we don’t want that to happen in Ireland.”
But doctors are extremely concerned that the deadline to have abortion services in place by January may not be met.
There are reservations about rushing a service without having the supports in place to ensure safety.
Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said just two planning meetings have so far taken place with the Department of Health although three were supposed to have been held.
Dr John O Brien, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, revealed there have been so far just exploratory meetings on guidelines for the delivery of abortion but none since the end of the summer and how abortions will be delivered have not been discussed.
The obstetricians’ body recommends that a 24- hour, 7 days a week, helpline be established to help with appointments, provide reassurance, and provide information if a woman is concerned about any aspect of her care.
This would include advice if she develops a complication.
The proposed three-day interval women would need to observe from the time she first asks for an abortion is not supported by evidence, they added.
“It may act as a barrier and it makes unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions.
“There is evidence that those who request termination remain satisfied with their decision,” said Dr Boylan.