Council chief sought two medical personnel

Legislation allows for two psychiatrists and an obstetrician

Medical council president Prof Kieran Murphy: not all psychiatrists worked in centres registered by the Mental Health Commission. Photograph: Eric Luke

Medical council president Prof Kieran Murphy: not all psychiatrists worked in centres registered by the Mental Health Commission. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sat, May 18, 2013, 10:21

Medical Council president Prof Kieran Murphy sought changes to the legislation allowing for two psychiatrists to grant an abortion in cases where a suicidal woman’s life was in danger.

The legislation allows for two psychiatrists and an obstetrician.

“Where the clinical decision is made to proceed with a termination of pregnancy, at least one of the two certifying psychiatrists shall then consult with an obstetrician employed at an appropriate location.’’

He said not all psychiatrists worked in centres registered by the Mental Health Commission, as referred to in the legislation.

“It is not clear why one of the certifying psychiatrists must be attached to a location where such a procedure is carried out. The majority of psychiatrists are not attached to such institutions.’’

Prof Murphy said the opinions of all registered medical practitioners certifying a procedure ending unborn life must be recorded in writing.

“Processes for an appeal mechanism, either by way of High Court appeal or judicial review, should be incorporated where the pregnant woman is not satisfied with the decision,’’ he added.

Medical personnel
Irish Medical Organisation president Dr Matthew Sadlier argued that imposing a requirement for three medical personnel in the case of self-destruction might cause unnecessary delay and was in excess of the two recommended by the expert group.

Obstetricians should not be required to certify risk of loss of life by way of self-destruction.

“This should be done by two psychiatrists in consultation with the woman’s GP.”

He said the IMO welcomed the provision for conscientious objection contained in the Bill.