Coombe hospital obstetrician appointed HSE clinical lead for abortion

Services are available in 10 out of 19 maternity units, and through 347 GPs in the community

Dr Aoife Mullally, an obstetrician at the Coombe hospital in Dublin, has been appointed HSE clinical lead for abortion, a year after the service was introduced.

Dr Mullally’s main task in the part-time post will be to ensure the roll out of termination of pregnancy in more maternity units, and in GP surgeries and other community settings.

At present abortion services are available in 10 out of 19 maternity units, and through 347 GPs in the community.

As clinical lead in the labour ward at the Coombe, Dr Mullally also runs clinics in Portlaoise hospital. She studied medicine in TCD, graduating in 1999. After completing higher training in the north of England, she returned to Ireland to specialise in high-risk labour and birth, as well as early pregnancy complications.


She supported the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, highlighting the risks faced by women taking abortion pills without medical supervision.

On Twitter she describes herself as a “mother, obstetrician and gynaecologist, feminist, advocate for improvement in maternity services”.

In the past she has been critical of “a continuous negative media narrative” around maternity care, saying this “has often been misleading and sensationalist”, and says there has been a “historic lack of appropriate investment” in the sector.

From Dublin, Dr Mullally is a sister of Irish Times columnist Una Mullally.

In the two-day-per-week post, Dr Mullally will be required to provide clinical leadership for the implementation of “safe, evidence-based, quality-assured, woman-centred, accessible services for women who require abortion care”, according to the role description.

Abortion was legalised in Ireland on January 1st this year, after the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act was passed 10 days earlier. This followed a referendum that replaced the Eighth Amendment giving the life of the unborn foetus the same value as that of the mother, with a clause permitting the Oireachtas to legislate for terminations.

After some initial teething troubles, the service has been the subject of mostly positive feedback from staff operating it. While anti-abortion groups remain implacably opposed to the service, pro-choice organisations say changes are needed, including around the three-day so-called “cooling off” period before women seeking a termination can get one.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times