Sunday 15 September 2019

Eilish O'Regan: 'Grievances over piecemeal policies continue to run deep'


(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Will the new abortion service create another health divide?

The hefty 38-page contract which a GP who agrees to provide medical abortion will sign has arrived through their letter boxes this week.

The fee is quite generous at €450 for three visits, including administering the abortion medicines.

If a woman had a termination of pregnancy in hospital and returns to the GP for aftercare there is a fee of €100. The service is free to the woman availing of the service.

Part of the doctor's duties will be advising the woman on secure contraception.

However, a combination of a doctor's visit fee and the cost of reliable long-lasting contraception could be €200.

Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail rightly points to the inequity for private patients who must pay the full cost of the GP consultation and contraception out of their own pockets.

He questions why there is not as much financial support given to women to reduce the risk of pregnancy as there is in ending it. It is an argument echoed by many pro-choice and pro-life GPs.

The speed with which the fee for medical abortions was offered, followed by the finalisation of a contract for doctors who want to provide the service, has been met with some cynicism. They also point to the €250 fee for antenatal care of a pregnant women they are paid which could involve 12 visits .

GPs believe this is part of a wider problem of piecemeal policy in the area of women's health. There is also the wider grievance among GPs at the cuts made to their State fees during the recession. Talks are under way with the aim of starting the restoration of the fees. But grievances run deep.

Irish Independent

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