Irish College of General Practitioners poised to hold abortion policy egm

Move may complicate Government plans to introduce terminations from January

Dublin Castle in May 2018 after the abortion referendum count: GPs are seeking an egm to discuss whether general practice is the appropriate setting for abortion services.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Dublin Castle in May 2018 after the abortion referendum count: GPs are seeking an egm to discuss whether general practice is the appropriate setting for abortion services. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Family doctors concerned at the Government’s plans for abortion seem set to secure an extraordinary general meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to call for a change of the organisation’s policy regarding terminations.

The move could have implications for the Government’s plans to put in place abortion services from next January.

The Government has asked the ICGP to be involved with some other medical organisations in drawing up clinical guidelines for the introduction of abortion services.

The ICGP is the representative organisation on education, training and standards in general practice in Ireland.

Some members have argued that the board of the ICGP did not reflect their concerns regarding proposed legislation to regulate abortions and have sought to convene an extraordinary general meeting of the organisation.

It is understood that the ICGP has now received close to the 350 signatures which would trigger the holding of an extraordinary general meeting under its rules. However, the identities of the signatories have first to be examined to confirm that they are members in good standing.

‘Appropriate setting’

The board of the ICGP is expected to consider the issue next week.

Doctors seeking the extraordinary general meeting want it to consider motions which, among others, would state that “routine general practice was not the appropriate setting in which to deliver an abortion service and consider a clinical setting, external to general practice, more appropriate for the provision of abortion services”.

The doctors seeking the extraordinary general meeting also want the ICGP to adopt a policy to favour “an opt-in system whereby GPs who wish to deliver abortion services receive adequate training, are sustained in their competence and can be subject to audit in keeping with international standards of governance”.

‘Freedom of conscience’

They also want a motion passed under which the ICGP would “agree unequivocally to support the right of all doctors to the effective exercise of freedom of conscience, within the professional context, with regards to abortion including no obligation to refer patients for termination of pregnancy”.

In a statement on Friday, the ICGP said it had received a request to hold an extraordinary general meeting of its members regarding its position on the provision of abortion services by general practitioners.

“The college’s rules require that a minimum of 10 per cent of members of good standing must sign the requisition of an extraordinary general meeting. Due procedure needs to be followed including the validation of the names attached to the extraordinary general meeting request.

“The board of the college will give serious consideration to the concerns raised, including the request to hold an extraordinary general meeting and will be responding to members in a timely manner.”