General practitioners and abortion


Sir, – Further to “Abortion railroading is a threat to our democracy” (Opinion & Analysis, November 10th), on October 31st the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) received a request for the holding of an an extraordinary general meeting (EGM). This request was invalid as there were no actual signatures provided, which is required procedurally. This information was provided well in advance to those seeking an EGM. Breda O’Brien states: “640 online signatures were received”. As stated in our press release on November 8th, the original request was accompanied by a list of names of which 373 were members of the IGCP. Only IGCP members can request an EGM of the organisation.

The issue of “termination of pregnancy” is an emotive subject and the IGCP is very conscious of the concerns of GPs around the issue of conscientious objection.

The IGCP does its work quietly and effectively to ensure the voice of all members is heard.

The IGCP published a report on November 8th on the consultation process undertaken with its members. This indicated that 32 per cent of members are willing to provide termination of pregnancy services; 43 per cent indicated that they would not be in a position to provide service at this time due to concerns regarding capacity, resources or conscientious objection, but are willing to refer to another colleague and 25 per cent indicated that they would not provide terminations and would prefer not to refer to a colleague.

In addition to the online consultation with members, the IGCP has held five meetings throughout the country in the last four weeks (and one further meeting which will take place this week) at which there has been a highly respectful debate and sharing of thoughts, ideas and concerns. The concept of the 24-hour helpline and of GPs “opting in” emerged from the engagement process we have undertaken to date. The IGCP has advocated strongly that GPs who do not wish to provide services will not be obliged to do so.

There are many other challenges that need to be addressed in the coming weeks and the IGCP will continue to listen and engage with the entirety of members to address their concerns. This will include an EGM on December 2nd.

To say that the IGCP is “both cynical and undemocratic” is incorrect and does not reflect the dedication of the ICGP to its members and our primary concern of patient safety and quality of care in respect of all aspects of patient care, including the termination of pregnancy. – Yours, etc,






Chief Executive,

The Irish College

of General Practitioners,

Lincoln Place,

Dublin 2.