Sunday 24 June 2018

Family planning clinics to offer abortion pills when law changes

More resources needed: IFPA chief executive Niall Behan. Photo: Tom Burke
More resources needed: IFPA chief executive Niall Behan. Photo: Tom Burke

Laura Lynott

Family planning clinics want to offer abortion pills to women when the law is changed.

So far the Government has indicated abortion services will be 'GP-led', but the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) and the Well Woman Centre in Dublin have both revealed they are available to provide abortion pills once it is legal.

But both agencies said they favour free treatment and a plan to "rethink everything" for the sake of women's care.

IFPA chief executive Niall Behan said: "We hope to provide women with early medical abortion medication, medical checks post-abortion and contraceptive services and if a case is more complex, then we hope to refer women."

Chief executive of the Well Woman Centre Alison Begas said the centre was willing to introduce the abortion pill.

"We see it is in line with our ethos," she said. "It's very encouraging to see some women will go to their own GP and GPs declaring themselves as being willing to offer medical abortion services, but some women won't be as comfortable with a GP who perhaps offers a service to her whole family.

"We need some training for our doctors, as very few doctors in this country will be fully conversed with what's involved," she added, "We don't envisage a great deal of training is needed."

 

Ms Begas said that the issue of paying for abortion pills was something that had to be ironed out in the legislation.

Estimates put the cost of a medical abortion in Ireland at around €300. This will include the price of the abortion pill - which will be used in the majority of cases and two doctor consultations.

"The issue of access around cost is a concern we have," Ms Begas said. "Before the referendum, I was of the assumption medical abortions would be freely provided by the Government. And the Government has not clarified its intentions here.

"I've seen reports stating a medical abortion will cost up to up to €300. There will be a need for two consultations, there may be a need for an ultrasound scan, there may be a benefit for women to have counselling within a 72-hour period.

"And there's professional time in this, so we'd like clarity, for this care to be free to women. This is a really important issue, as many women who come to see us are on low incomes or under financial pressure and just because they don't qualify for a medical card doesn't mean they're flush in any way."

IFPA chief Mr Behan agreed that the associations would require more resources. He said: "We can't have women not able to access a service if they need help. This will cost money. And this absolutely has to be affordable for women.

"No woman should have to go through with a pregnancy because of a lack of resources, it should be universal. And our experience is women present to us in all circumstances.

"This should be a universally free system, accessible for all. We look forward to discussing this with the Government."

The IFPA has centres in Cork, Dublin City Centre, Tallaght in south county Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Gorey, Letterkenny, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford. But Mr Behan said: "In an ideal world we'd like to be in all larger cities and towns."

This would put Irish abortion services in line with the UK.

Irish Independent

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