The largest organisation representing General Practitioners in Ireland have decided to remain neutral in Ireland’s upcoming abortion referendum, it has been revealed.
The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) issued a letter to members yesterday, February 15, acknowledging that each member was entitled to their opinions “as a matter of personal conscience”.
“However, the Board of ICGP will not have a formal policy position in relation to the referendum, specifically,” stated the letter, seen by The Irish Catholic, which was sent to over 4,000 GPs.
With possible policies on abortion being uncertain and evolving – if the Eighth Amendment is repealed – the Board said they were “very aware” that there are concerns among GPs about the implementation of an abortion service in the future.
The report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution recommended that if abortion legislation is introduced, it should be GP-led.
The National Association of GPs, who represent 2,000 GPs, revealed earlier this month that the association “strongly objects” to the assumption that GPs would lead the service, with its members being “outraged” about the lack of consultation around the issue.
Representative Dr Andrew Jordan highlighted some of their members were concerned whether conscientious objection would feature in proposed legislation.
Minister Simon Harris later confirmed there would be grounds for conscientious objection in any proposed legislation.
According to the letter the ICGP has been requested to liaise with the Department of Health to “possibly contribute to standards and guidelines in conjunction with other postgraduate training bodies”.
“If we are asked to provide input, the College will represent all members’ concerns. Evidence, quality and safety – including the right of GPs to conscientiously refuse to provide such a service – will be articulated.”
The position has been welcomed by pro-life campaigners, with Niamh Uí Bhriain of Save the 8th saying: “For months now, supporters of Repeal have tried to present medical opinions on the referendum as uniform. They are not.”
“In the coming months, we are glad that those many doctors with serious concerns about the Governments proposal will have the support of the ICGP if they wish to make their views known. This is a good day for those of us who want a fair and open debate.”