Row over meeting to discuss GP abortion objections
The group of anti-abortion GPs who organised a petition to hold a meeting of doctors to discuss objections to referring a woman for a termination of pregnancy said the decision not to hear motions at the gathering was "farcical and untenable".
The group of 640 doctors secured the meeting after sending a petition to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), their professional and training body, which is involved in drawing up guidelines on how the proposed extension of abortion law will operate from next year.
A spokesman for the group said they were angry that the meeting to be held early next month will only hear topics for discussion instead.
Dr Andrew O'Regan, one of the GPs, said that in January there will be a roll-out of abortion facilities in general practice, even though doctors on the ground have never once been consulted by the Government or the ICGP board.
He said that GPs "will face the full rigours of the law in January if they conscientiously object to being involved in abortion".
The original motions submitted for the extraordinary general meeting centred on general practice being an "entirely unsuitable setting" in which to deliver an abortion service. They also centred on securing proper freedom of conscience protections for doctors, including not being obliged to facilitate abortion through referral.
In response, a spokeswoman for the ICGP said the meeting will hear concerns of member doctors. The college has consulted with its members on the provision of termination of pregnancy services via online consultation and regional meetings.
"The college's position has been clear from the beginning, that it favours an opt-in service for GPs who wish to provide the service, with the provision of a 24-7 helpline that patients can access directly as an essential requirement.
"In other words, no GP who does not wish to provide a termination of pregnancy service should be required to do so," she said.