Third petition as GPs ‘fight’ for conscience rights on abortion

Third petition as GPs ‘fight’ for conscience rights on abortion Dr Orla Halpenny

Hundreds of Irish GPs have submitted a third petition to their representative body calling for a vote on abortion and freedom of conscience.

Approximately 600 GPs hand-signed the petition calling for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

Dr Orla Halpenny from Doctors for Life said that “members are very angry” not only with the issue of abortion but several actions taken by the ICGP.

“It’s the same petition as before looking for a vote on whether or not termination of pregnancy should be held in general practice and requesting that those objecting in conscience would not have their careers or job prospects affected,” said Dr Halpenny.

The first petition in summer didn’t receive enough signatures, while the second petition last November spurred an EGM but there was no voting held. This led to about 50 GPs walking out who said their voices were not being heard.

Legal
 advice

After receiving legal advice all the signatures have now been signed by hand, following a question mark over some signatures in their second petition being collected digitally.

Dr Halpenny said they have reached the quota needed and of the 600 signatures about 470 are full members of the ICGP.

“The law very clearly states that even if a doctor objects in conscience to a termination of pregnancy he or she is obliged to refer the patient onwards: facilitating it.

“That’s not satisfactory to anybody with a conscientious objection,” she added.

“Unless we fight this battle outside the hospitals then it is going to be much, much fiercer in the hospitals.” The petition was submitted two weeks ago.

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