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600 doctors secure EGM, as medics including midwives and pharmacists seek to change abortion regime and protect conscience

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are standing up to Simon Harris’ attempts to force them to facilitate abortions, and their courage has gained them support even from medical colleagues who voted to repeal the 8th.

More than 600 doctors have now signed a petition and have secured an extraordinary (EGM) of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) so that the body can consider motions on the abortion bill and on the right to conscientious objection.

Doctors who wrote the petition originally wrote that they needed 350 signatures of existing members  but they achieved far in excess of that number.

The EGM will vote on a motion which states that “the ICGP agrees that routine General Practice is not the appropriate setting in which to deliver an abortion service and consider a clinical setting, external to General Practice, more appropriate for the provision of abortion services.”   

It will also consider recommending an “opt-in system” for GPs who wish to provide abortions, rather than forcing doctors to opt out.   

On freedom of conscience, the motion reads “That the ICGP agree unequivocally to support the right of all doctors to the effective exercise of freedom of conscience, within the professional context, with regards to abortion including no obligation to refer patients for termination of pregnancy.”   

And a fourth motion spells out: “While acknowledging that the College must also represent those who “opt in”, we call on the ICGP to unequivocally state that those doctors who choose not to "opt in" will in no way be prevented from providing any other services to women nor will they suffer any disadvantage to the progression of their career either as trainers or practitioners.”   

Meanwhile pro-life nurses, pharmacists and other medical practitioners have also sought an urgent meeting with Simon Harris and with representative bodies to ensure that they are not forced to participate in abortions.   

Pro-life nurses and midwives met with TDs and Senators last week at a well-attended event where they explained their concerns.   “This bill will force nurses like us out of medicine at a time when the health service is already understaffed and in crisis. Harris is being vindictive about this, there is no good reason not to give us freedom of conscience, and people will suffer if doctors and nurses are forced out of medicine,” they said.   

Harris has not met with these medical bodies ahead of publishing his abortion bill which he is rushing through the Dáil.   

Nurse Fiona McHugh’s passionate comments on this subject at the Dáil have received more than 100,000 views organically, and supportive comments on her video reflect the anxiety and upset that many medical practitioners are feeling because of the proposals in the abortion bill.  


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