THE Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) annual conference rejected three separate motions on abortion – a result that is in stark contrast to opinion polls of the public and a complete turnaround of a survey conducted among doctors only two years ago.
The conference in Killarney rejected a motion calling for the regulation of abortion where there is a "real and substantial risk to the mother".
It also voted down a motion calling for legislation to allow abortion in the case of rape or incest and a third that called on the Government to legislate for the provision of abortion for women with non-viable foetal abnormalities.
All three motions were rejected by 42 votes to 32, reflecting the polarity of the positions on this highly emotive issue.
A nationwide Behaviour and Attitudes poll conducted in January showed that 59 per cent of people favoured access to abortion where the mother displays suicidal feelings.
Seventy-four per cent favoured access to abortion in the case of rape, 80 per cent where there was a foetal abnormality and 87 per cent in cases where the mother's life was in danger.
Another nationwide study of 300 GPs, which was conducted in 2011, showed that 75 per cent of them supported legislation for abortion.
Catherine O'Neill, head of anti-abortion group the Life Institute, hailed the vote as "a victory for unborn children and mothers".
But several of the younger doctors attending the conference claimed last night that the vote did not reflect the overall views of the medical profession.