GPs will seek new State contract for abortion services
IMO says family doctors will want provision to opt out on conscience grounds
The IMO has said individual GPs could not and should not be obliged to provide an abortion service. Photograph: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire
GPs will seek to be paid for operating any new abortion service under a new separate contract with the State if the planned referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment is carried.
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said at the weekend that GPs would also have to be permitted to opt out of any new abortion service on conscience grounds.
The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment concluded in December that Article 40.3.3 should be removed from the Constitution and politicians should be allowed to legislate for abortion.
Legislation should be prepared to permit terminations up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, without restriction, by way of a GP service, the committee said.
The IMO has said individual GPs could not and should not be obliged to provide an abortion service.
The doctors’ trade union stressed that the provision of abortions could not “be a core service to be operated by all GPs or tied to existing contractual arrangements”. It maintained there would have to be provision in any new arrangements for conscientious objection.
“While there is no clarity in terms of either the outcome of the referendum itself or any proposed legislation, the IMO will support and uphold the rights of all its GP members based on their individual decision as to whether or not to provide the service should such a service be legislated for.
“ If the service is to be introduced the role of the IMO will be to ensure that GPs who choose to provide the service are properly resourced to deliver an appropriate and safe service for patients.”
Strongly held views
Separately in a statement the IMO’s governing council said: “As is the case across the community and amongst other professionals in the health sector, individual doctors hold different, often strongly held views on matters like abortion where issues of personal morality, professional ethics and the law co-exist - often in the most complex and challenging circumstances.
“However, doctors and medical professionals have additional responsibilities and concerns in relation to such issues because they need to have absolute clarity around the legal position in which they operate and they need to have assurance about their ability to act in line with their conscience in a manner which respects their own views while also respecting the views and wishes of the relevant patients and the legal environment in which they operate.”