Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly refused to confirm whether that the system allowing home abortions via telemedicine will cease after the Covid-19 crisis passes, following a query from Deputy Carol Nolan.
Mr Donnelly would only commit to a review of the matter once the public health emergency is over he said in answer to a Dáil question.
In a statement from the Pro-life Campaign, Dr Kirsten Fuller said Minister Donnelly’s assurances “falls short of the commitment given by his predecessor as Health Minister, Simon Harris, who clearly stated that telemedicine abortions would only continue until the end of the Covid-19 crisis”.
Then Minister for Health Simon Harris stated that the arrangement enabling home abortions “will lapse once the public health emergency is declared over”.
Dr Fuller called on Minister Donnelly to issue a more explicit statement clarifying that he intends to cease the practice of telemedicine abortions.
Dr Fuller said that the practice, as well as ending the lives of unborn babies, “potentially puts the lives of pregnant women at risk as it does not involve a face-to-face consultation between the woman and her doctor before the abortion”.
The decision regarding the sanction on telemedicine has been controversial from its initiation. In response to a question from TD Éamonn Ó’Cuív in April, then Minister Harris refused to confirm whether he sought advice from the CMO before allowing home abortions to take place. Dr Fuller called on Minister Donnelly “to clarify whether he received advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) before agreeing to sanction telemedicine abortions on his watch”.
Prior to the abortion referendum in 2018, Simon Harris, Stephen Donnelly, Micheál and Leo Varadkar were constantly on the public record talking about the serious risks posed to women’s health by self-administering abortion pills without medical consultation.