Providing an abortion service

 

A chara, – We are now past 100 days into providing safe, woman-centred abortion care in over 300 GP surgeries throughout Ireland.

We are aware there is a cohort of GPs who“do not believe general practice is an appropriate setting in which to provide abortions” and who appear to favour confining abortion provision to clinics outside of general practice (Letters, April 16th).

The World Health Organisation has identified primary care as the best place to provide safe accessible abortion care, and as abortion providers we are happy to say that such care is being provided now within the safety of GP surgeries in Ireland.

More than 600 health professionals (including GPs, practice nurses, midwives) have attended START training meetings since January 1st,2019.

Many GPs have attended ICGP training days, and more are waiting to attend educational sessions, so many more GPs are actively preparing to become providers.

As GP providers we are now meeting a cohort of women who heretofore were confined to furtive shame-filled shadows of our society. They now sit in our waiting rooms, just like any other patient. They are afforded professional, confidential, quality care when they attend with unplanned pregnancy, just as they would if they attended with any other problem.

As conscientious providers of abortion care it is a professional privilege to be able to say to our patients,“Come in and close the door”, and women are visibly relieved that they can receive evidence-based non-judgmental abortion care right here with their GP.

As family doctors we are also ideally placed to give advice with regard to contraception, and we will continue to advocate for funding of contraception for all our patients as well as for sexual and reproductive health education.

Confining abortion provision to external abortion clinics would add to the stigma and shame felt by women seeking termination of pregnancy, and it would undoubtedly render them more vulnerable to the type of anti-choice protesting which has been witnessed around the country since January 1st.

We recognise that some GPs will not wish to provide abortion services at their practices, and they can be reassured that they are not compelled to carry out abortions.

Any GP who does not wish to provide the service can simply direct their patient to the HSE MyOptions helpline, thus allowing the patient to facilitate her own transfer of care to a willing provider.

Many GP providers have received referrals from GP colleagues who themselves are not providing the service, and this system of inter referral is working well, thus ensuring continuity of care for the patient.

Abortion provision has commenced and is well established in General Practice, and we remain steadfast in our pledge to the women of Ireland – we will continue to provide safe legal abortion care to you in our GP surgeries. – Yours, etc,

Dr AINE MURPHY, Dr

CIARA KEATING, Dr

BRIAN KENNEDY, Dr

SIOBHAN McDONAGH, Dr

SARAH SHEEHAN, Dr

DECLAN MATTHEWS,

Dr BRENDA MORAN,

Dr PHIL KIERAN, Dr

MADELEINE Ní­

DHAILIGH, Dr MARY

FAVIER, Dr EIMEAR

CROSBIE, Dr LIZ

GOULD, Dr VERONICA

MURPHY, Dr SUMI

DUNNE, Dr LIZ BARRY,

Dr PAUL RYAN, Dr

SHEENAGH McNAMARA,

Dr TIERNAN MURRAY,

Dr MICHAEL KELLY,

Dr LOUISE NESTOR,

Dr CLODAGH BRENNAN,

Dr CIARA MURPHY,

Dr GENEVIEVE McGUIRE,

Dr LIZ DUNBAR, Dr AMY

MORGAN, Dr MARION

DYER, Dr GERRY

WHEELER, Dr EABHA Ní­

MHURCHÚ, Dr BRENDAN

O’SHEA, Dr SUZANNE

KELLY, Dr CIARA

O’CONNELL, Dr

DIARMUID QUINLAN,

Dr JOHN O RIORDAN,

Dr CAITRIONA

O’RIORDAIN, Prof TOM

O’DOWD, Dr KAREN

GIVEN, Dr PATRICK

O’DONNELL, Dr PETER

KELLY, Dr JUDY DWYER,

Dr CARMEL MURPHY, Dr

HAZEL BYRNE, Dr NOEL

HOWARD, Dr AOIFE

O’SULLIVAN, Dr AIDEEN

PHELAN, Dr DAVID

KHAVIA, Dr CLAIRE

McCARTHY, Dr NUALA

RIGNEY, Dr KAREN

MURPHY, Dr ELAINE

BYRNE, Dr LINSEY

MASON, Dr RUKSHAN

GOONEWARDENA, Dr

RACHEL KEANE, Dr

SINEAD McNAMARA, Dr

FINOLA MINIHAN, Dr

GILLIAN MCCUTCHEON,

Dr OLIVIA MURPHY,

Dr SARAH FITZGIBBON,

Dr CLODAGH BRENNAN,

Dr MARK MURPHY, Dr

ISABELLA FALLON, Dr

KEN HARTE, Dr SINEAD

FEENEY, Dr JENNIE

HARPUR, Dr TRISH

HORGAN, Dr CIARA

McCARTHY, Dr

SAMANTHA BURROWS,

Dr JULIE RYAN, Dr FIONA

QUINN, Dr NIAMH

O’BRIEN, Dr CARMEL

FLYNN, Dr SUSAN

CAVANAGH, Dr MIKE

THOMPSON, Dr GRACE

TRAYNOR, Dr SOPHIE

FAHERTY, Dr SHEILA

ROCHFORD, Dr LAURA

MCKENZIE, Dr MARK

McCORMICK and Dr KATE

McELROY,

C/o Cork.