herald

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Why hasn't health minister consulted us?, asks GP group calling for 'No' vote

Posters calling for a Yes and No vote in next week’s referendum
Posters calling for a Yes and No vote in next week’s referendum

Legalising abortion could be a disaster for the health service, it has been claimed.

Doctors and nurses who are opposing the Government's move to liberalise abortion laws claimed Health Minister Simon Harris had not consulted those who would be carrying out the procedures.

They also said that about 2,000 surgical abortions could be carried out in Ireland in the first year of the new law.

Next week, we will go to the polls to vote on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which makes an abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances.

Pills

If the public votes in favour of repealing the amendment, the Government will table legislation to permit abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

GPs supporting the Save the 8th campaign say the Government has overestimated the impact of abortion pills in delivering the terminations that will be required.

They claimed that in the UK, almost four in 10 abortions before 12 weeks are surgical. Using the Yes campaign's figures of 5,000 abortions annually, "this would translate to about 2,000 surgical abortions in Ireland in the first year of a new law".

GP Neil Maguire said it was not acceptable that Mr Harris had not consulted them.

"Minister Harris has not spoken to us about what role he expects us to fulfil, and what is more, he has explicitly refused to discuss it until after a referendum has been passed," he said.

Nurse Marie Donnelly said: "The lies about the abortion pill in this debate can no longer be ignored. It is not a magic tablet that makes pregnancies go away. I am challenging the minister this morning - come out of hiding."

On Saturday, doctors who favour repeal in the referendum held a Together for Yes summit in the city.

They unveiled a declaration which had been signed by more than 1,000 doctors in Ireland, calling for the end of the Eighth Amendment.

Spokesman Dr Mark Murphy said: "Doctors across Ireland want change. We want repeal.

"We are here to say the Eighth Amendment isn't working - it puts doctors in a constitutional straitjacket which holds us back from providing proper care to our patients."

The event was attended by Mr Harris, who is one of the key political figures in the Yes campaign. He insisted claims that the proposed legislation would pave the way for unrestricted abortions were untrue.

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