FAMILY doctors in Limerick will not turn women in crisis pregnancy away and abortion services will be provided, a senior GP representative has said.
Dr Emmet Kerin, a former president of the National Association of General Practitioners and current executive member of that body told the Limerick Post that Limerick women need not fear that they will be left without refuge after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that abortion services will be provided by GPs on an “opt in’ basis.
“There is a small minority of GPs who will not want to participate in abortion referrals or prescribing pills and their opinions should be respected. There are others who have no moral objections but have concerns around issues like having access to ultrasound to safely date a pregnancy and blood testing facilities for rhesus issues.”
Despite polls showing that eight in ten GPs don’t want to personally provide services, “there are plenty of GPs in Limerick who will provide a service or be happy to refer patients on to family planning services. No GP is going to say to any woman in crisis ‘you’re on your own”.
Dr Kerin, whose practice is with the busy Treaty Medical centre in the city, himself wrote to Minister Harris in advance of the Referendum vote, asking him to meet with GP representatives to discuss the issues.
“It was very disappointing that he didn’t do that. GPs were completely sidelined. There was no question of trying to influence the outcome of the vote. It simply made practical sense for us to talk to the Minister about the issues in advance. But we do welcome the decision to allow GPs opt-in, Dr Kerin said.
“But it’s a huge issue that there isn’t a functional relationship between GPs and the Department of Health.
Dr Kerin said that he is confident that services will now be provided by doctors whose hands will no longer be tied by constitutional ban on abortion.
“We had an EGM after the vote and had advice from a member of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. It became clear that abortion is a specialist service.
“And from a pragmatic point of view, polls show that around 80 per cent of GPs don’t want to provide this service for various reasons but they are happy to refer patients on and women can also self-refer to a clinic”.
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