Thursday 19 September 2019

Two counties still without any GPs offering abortion as just 13pc sign up to the service


'Good spread': 337 GPs around the country now provide abortions
'Good spread': 337 GPs around the country now provide abortions
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Just 13pc of GPs have signed up to provide abortion services and there are still two counties where there are no family doctors offering terminations.

The latest figures show that there are now 337 GPs around the country who have signed the contract to provide the service.

That's an increase of just one doctor since July.

Meanwhile, Carlow and Sligo remain the only two counties where there are no GPs offering abortions.

Women who are less than nine weeks' pregnant can go to GPs for a termination.

GPs are not obliged to provide the service, but they must refer women to doctors that do provide abortions.

The Medical Council last month issued new guidelines setting out how doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion must refer women to another practitioner.

The Department of Health told the Oireachtas Health Committee that 13pc of Ireland's more than 2,500 GPs had signed up to offer abortion services as of July.

"Although there is a good geographic spread of GPs taking part, enough to meet the needs of people who may need to access the service, there are no GPs providing the service in Carlow or Sligo," it added.

The HSE confirmed that this remains the case and that one additional doctor had signed up since July. It said that a further 16 had signed the contract but were awaiting the completion of the process. It said 188 of the 337 doctors who provided the service had consented to having their details shared by the 'My Options' support service for unplanned pregnancies. That's up from 126 in February.

A HSE statement said abortion services were "primarily community-led", and added: "No capacity issues have been raised and service demand remains within the predicted limits."

Abortions are available up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy in acute hospitals, but there must be exceptional circumstances for terminations beyond that point. The first report on the number of abortions being carried out is not due to be published until 2020.

Irish Independent

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