The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which trains and accredits most Irish obstetricians, has expressed its support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
In a statement, the college said it was ready to train Irish doctors to provide abortion services in the State if the referendum was passed on May 25th.
Most Irish gynaecologists and obstetricians are members of the body, which covers both the UK and Ireland. A separate Irish group, the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has also recommended a Yes vote.
The presence of the Eighth Amendment in the Irish Constitution means that thousands of women travel from Ireland to the UK every year
One obstetrician who spoke to The Irish Times said most Irish obstetricians were members of both groups and that the college was highly regarded and its guidance was relied on in the management of many clinical situations.
Prof Lesley Regan, president of the college, said that "women in the Republic of Ireland should be able to access abortion care services within their own country".
“The presence of the Eighth Amendment in the Irish Constitution means that thousands of women travel from Ireland to the UK every year to access abortion services because this care is otherwise unavailable to them.
“The high cost and stress of travelling to another country for an abortion, combined with the increasing availability of abortion medication online, has seen a growing number of women from Ireland – potentially up to 1,000 year – attempting to end pregnancies this way, without any medical supervision.”
The college said that if the amendment was repealed, it would urge the Government “to ensure that abortion is subject to regulatory and professional standards, in line with other medical procedures”.
Prof John Morrison, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Galway University Hospital, and a member of the college's representative council, said that women in many clinical situations "such as following the diagnosis of a fatal foetal condition, or where the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's health" have to make their own arrangements "to obtain abortion care in a different country".
“Removing the Eighth Amendment would permit the introduction of legislation to facilitate abortion services in Ireland in compliance with best international medical and regulatory standards,” he said.