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Friday 22 March 2019

More than 100 psychiatrists disagree with abortion proposal

Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

NEARLY one in three of the country’s psychiatrists who treat adults is concerned at the government’s proposal to introduce legislation which would allow a pregnant and suicidal have an abortion as treatment.

The 113 psychiatrists have signed a statement saying that legislation, which would allow for abortion as a treatment for threat of suicide, has no basis in medical evidence.

Four leading psychiatrists who carried out the survey were at Leinster House today to meet with TDs and Senators to discuss its findings- sparking yet another potential crisis for the controversial legislation.

There are around 350 psychiatrists in the country and 302 of the doctors were contacted. 14 of the doctors disagreed with the statement.

Their opposition poses a major difficulty for the implementation of the proposed legislation which will rely on psychiatrists to be involved in assessing a woman who is pregnant and seeking an abortion on the grounds of suicide risk.

The government is already facing separate objections to its proposals to have two panels of doctors assess a woman in this situation – the first three would meet her while the second would be consulted for their opinion before a final decision is made.

The four consultants at Leinster House today were Dr Martin Mahon, Connolly Hospital, Dr Bernie McCabe, Navan Hospital, Dr Richelle Kirrane, Connolly Hospitall and Prof Patricia Casey of the Mater Hospital.

Dr McCabe said: “I am not surprised that so many of our colleagues agree that the proposed legislation is flawed. As members of the medical profession, we have a duty to our patients to adopt best practice and an evidence-based approach to everything we do.

“The fact is that there is no evidence that abortion is a treatment for suicidality in pregnancy and may in fact be harmful to women. The Government must take this into account and reconsider its proposals.”

She declined to say what the doctors would do if they are asked to take part in the assessment of a woman after legislation is passed.

She said: “In total, 302 letters were sent to consultant psychiatrists there was over a 40pc response. Doctors were given the option to sign their names or reply anonymously. Almost 90pc of respondents agreed with the statement.

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