I am an Irish general practitioner. I am an elected member of the Irish Medical Council. I write to you as a doctor and as an Irish citizen, and I do not propose to represent the views of either of these institutions, however I wish to make the following points.
Presently the governing institutions of Irish medicine, the ICGP and the IMC, are in the process of working out the practical and ethical guidelines for the Termination of Pregnancy Act that has recently passed through the Oireachtas.
Those GPs who have signed and are contemplating signing the contract to provide this service should think long and hard about the ethics of what the Irish Government has foisted upon general practice.
I am not in any way referring to the ethics of abortion, but rather to the political ineptitude behind the current legislation.
Any GP who offers abortion services in Ireland must do so in the context of the gross reality that abortions are to be provided free of charge to all women, whilst at the same time contraception must be paid for to the tune of circa €100 (consultation and prescription charge) for all women and young girls not in possession of a medical card.
The population of females in Ireland of reproductive age is in the region of 1.2 million. Some 30-40pc of these females may have entitlement to a medical card under the current GMS scheme. A young girl in Ireland, if she is living at home and entitled to a medical card, cannot apply independently for one, and must do so through her parents/guardians in order to be means tested for eligibility. Regardless of one's opinion on the matter of abortion, to offer free abortions in the context of charging women and girls for contraception is, to say the least, morally repugnant.
If a young girl is being abused by her guardian(s) she must appeal to them for access to healthcare and contraception. A woman who is not eligible for a medical card but who is financially dependent upon her partner, must appeal to him for the means to pay for contraception. However, all women of reproductive age can obtain an abortion free of charge.
The fee to be paid to a doctor for a medical termination conducted over three to four visits is €450, whist the fee paid for the management of a pregnancy over eight to 10 visits is circa €250.
This means that a GP is paid circa €110 per visit to terminate a pregnancy, whilst he/she is paid circa €25 per visit, to manage a pregnancy.
The provision of abortion services in this context is an insult to the women of Ireland. GPs are expected to provide abortions, whilst at the same time operate a service that prevents females from accessing contraception and sexual health, without financial, social and bureaucratic impediments. Presently in many cases women are denied access to contraception and sexual health, without male consent.
What is occurring here is morally and socially dysfunctional. The familiar and grotesque expedience of 'winning votes' at the expense of competent political leadership is thoroughly exposed.
Dr Marcus de Brun GP
Rush, Co Dublin
Instead of waxing lyrical, Harris should face facts
I see that Health Minister Simon Harris is still waxing lyrical about the "momentous" decision to legislate for abortion, and about it being a "very significant day for women's health" ("'Momentous day' for Irish women as abortion services are rolled out", Irish Independent, January 1).
Perhaps one of his advisers should take him aside and remind him that the abortion referendum is over, and that he can stop campaigning.
A line from a Tom Paxton song keeps coming to me: "Don't try to change my mind with facts."
The facts about abortion, from countries which have gone down this path before us, suggest that we will now have more than double the number of Irish abortions each year than we had under the Eighth Amendment.
Only a small number of these - two or three hundred - will be for the hard cases like rape and severe foetal disability.
And the effect of these extra abortions on maternal mental and physical health will be negligible to non-existent.
Lismore, Co Waterford
Putting the accent on one bonus Brexit could bring
After March 29, will all the irritating English-accented TV and radio commercials disappear off RTÉ and TG4?
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
Nothing a haircut and a bell on your bike can't fix
Here is my wish list for 2019.
1. That Michael Healy-Rae removes his cap for good and that Mick Wallace gets a hair cut.
2. That Mayo win the Sam Maguire cup and give us all a bit of peace.
3. That referees in all sports start to penalise the all-in confrontation properly.
4. That the very lenient sentences that are being given for serious crime be increased and trial waiting times be shortened.
5. That Conor McGregor becomes irrelevant.
6. That priests and bishops start a campaign in favour of married priests and women priests.
7. That the alcohol percentage is shown on all wine lists in restaurants, wine magazines and newspapers.
8. That cyclists on all pedestrian walkways use an audible warning when approaching walkers.
9. That the homeless list and HSE waiting list are gone by the end of the year.
10. That the law should be changed to have all dogs on leads when they are in public places.
Castlebar, Co Mayo