Wednesday 16 October 2019

Over 100 psychiatrists plan to opt out of panels

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

A SIGNIFICANT number of psychiatrists are expected to opt out of becoming involved in panels to assess a suicidal pregnant woman seeking an abortion.

Already 116 of the 350 psychiatrists eligible to take part in the process have indicated that they may refuse, saying there is no medical evidence to support abortion in these circumstances.

Dr Anthony McCarthy, a Dublin perinatal psychiatrist, said the requirement to have two psychiatrists and an obstetrician assess a woman was reasonable, but he expected it would only apply to a tiny number of patients.

Leading obstetricians expressed hope yesterday that the proposed legislation would give doctors the clarity they need. Holles St Master Dr Rhona Mahony also said the legislation appeared to provide the clarification doctors were seeking to protect the life of the mother.

The bill states that it is not necessary for doctors to be of the opinion that a risk to a mother's life is inevitable and immediate in order to terminate a pregnancy. The risk must be real and substantial.

This is expected to be examined further by the doctors when they appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to discuss it in more detail.

Irish Independent

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