Dr Emmet Kerin, Monaleen, NAGP president
A LEADING Limerick doctor has said that he was “alarmed” to hear the Government’s assumption that abortion would be GP-led if it is passed into law.
The Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment had recommended unrestricted abortion for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, suggesting that the service would be GP-led.
The National Association of General Practitioners issued a statement this week, calling for immediate engagement with Minister for Health Simon Harris on the matter.
The union, which represents more than 2,000 GPs in Ireland, “strongly objects to the assumption” that abortion will be a GP-led service.
Furthermore, some members have expressed “outrage that there has been no consultation”.
Dr Emmet Kerin, NAGP president, who operates the Treaty Medical Centre on the Ennis Road, said: “I was alarmed to hear the Minister’s comments and presumption that the State would direct GPs to lead an abortion service without any engagement with our members to discuss the implications of this notion. The growing disconnect of the Minister and his Department of Health from the frontline service of General Practice is of genuine concern to me.”
Dr Kerin, who is an adjunct senior clinical lecturer at the Graduate Entry Medical School, at University of Limerick, added: “General practitioners are dedicated to the health of their patients but feel that their work supporting the increasingly chaotic healthcare system receives no acknowledgment. For the Minister to suggest that our profession should lead out an abortion service without consultation with our member GPs is an affront to our profession and could pose yet another strain on the provision of general practice healthcare services.”
On Tuesday morning, Minister Simon Harris sent a tweet to RTE’s Morning Ireland, stating: “Let me provide that assurance now — there will be conscientious objection provided for. Plenty of time for engagement but legislation not yet published, let alone a referendum held.”
In a statement this week, the union said that it “strongly urges the Minister for Health to engage with the NAGP before progressing with the proposed legislation regarding abortion in Ireland”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated that a referendum on the Eighth Amendment will likely take place in late May.