Tuesday 25 June 2019

Women who have a medical abortion 'likely to need three visits to GP', says health chairman

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Women who are certified for a medical abortion are likely to have to make three visits to their GP, the Oireachtas health committee has heard.

Dr Michael Harty, chairman of the committee and who is also a GP, said it was important the woman gets a face-to-face consulation with the doctor.

He was commenting as the committee continued to debate more of the 180 amendments to The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, which will allow for medical abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Pro-choice TDs said the proposed legislation, forcing a three-day pause from the time a women is certified for an abortion to getting medication was patronising.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said it was already difficult to get an appointment with some GPs and having to attend the surgery twice would add to the costs of the HSEs, which will fund the abortion service for free.

But Dr Harty said he believed there would need to be three visits in all, including a third to follow up on the woman's health after abortion.

As a compromise, some TDs said that instead of abolishing the three-day rule there could be a change made to the point at which "the clock starts ticking" and the pause could begin at the woman's initial contact and inquiry with the health service.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he would not change the three-day wait but would examine the point at which it would started.

An amendment by pro-life TDs that women who have an abortion would have to bury or cremate a foetus after termination was defeated.

Mr Harris described the proposal as distasteful.

The committee, which had another lengthy session yesterday, heard criticism from some pro-life TDs at the manner in which they were treated.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said Mr Harris had tried to ridicule them. The TD said he accepted the referendum vote but had sincere worries about parts of the bill.

Irish Independent

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