Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to hold meeting on abortion
Doctors to discuss proposed abortion legislation but opposing views likely to surface
Dr Peter Boylan, chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said 19 of the executive’s approximately 25 members attended the executive meeting at which the decision was made to support repeal of the Eighth Amendment. File photograph: Collins
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will hold an extraordinary general meeting on Friday to discuss the Government’s proposed abortion legislation.
Divergence of views on abortion proposals is expected to arise but chairman of the institute Dr Peter Boylan rejected a claim made by retired obstetrician Dr Eamon McGuinness that there was “possibly a little dispute” on the executive about the decision to support repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Dr Boylan said 19 of the executive’s approximately 25 members attended the executive meeting at which the decision was made to support repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
“Everybody voted in favour of the institute being in favour of repeal. There was one abstention but nobody voted against it,” he said.
Dr Boylan pointed out that all 19 maternity units across the State are represented on the executive of the institute, which has approximately 200 members.
Dr McGuinness, who was chair of the institute from 1993 to 1996 had made the claim at a Save the 8th press conference this week. Dr Boylan, who retired at the end of 2016, said Dr McGuinness is not a member of the executive.
In a brief statement when it announced its support last month for the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment favouring repeal, the institute said it “looks forward to continuing to assist in informing legislation to enhance women’s health and safety”.
Dr Boylan said “the reason for the meeting is to discuss the proposals in the legislation if the Eighth is passed”.
The institute chairman said “inevitably in all countries there are doctors who disagree and there are doctors obviously in this country and obstetricians as well who would prefer to see the Eighth retained and who don’t see a problem with it”.
He said, however, the reality was that those who are in active practice and people such as the masters of the Dublin maternity hospitals “deal with patients in tertiary medical centres and recognise the difficulties”.
People’s opinions “have to be respected obviously and that’s no different from any other country in the world”.
He said that if the referendum was passed repealing the amendment “and if legislation is introduced successfully there will be clauses for conscientious objection obviously and that’s only fair”.
Dr Boylan pointed out that “whenever there is anything of significance coming up that will affect obstetric practice there is a special meeting held in order to discuss the possible implications and that’s standard practice and that’s what we’re going to do”.
He said the Government’s proposals were aspirational “but we’ve a fair idea of what they will be proposing because a lot of it has been in the public domain”.
If the referendum is passed “what we want to see is how this will affect practice, what are the implications for infrastructure, for GPs, practice nurses, nurse practitioners, midwifery practitioners and how will we organise ourselves, how will we organise guidelines”.
He added: “We don’t have another scheduled organised meeting until the AGM in September.
“The legislation will be well on the way if the amendment is passed so it makes sense for us to sit down and discuss these issues now.”