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'We don't want private abortion clinics in Ireland' - Health Minister

The Health Minister has warned charging for abortions could lead to private clinics popping up ar...
Newstalk
Newstalk

13.36 19 Sep 2018


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'We don't want...

'We don't want private abortion clinics in Ireland' - Health Minister

Newstalk
Newstalk

13.36 19 Sep 2018


Share this article


The Health Minister has warned charging for abortions could lead to private clinics popping up around the country - saying that's not something the Government wants.

Yesterday, the Eighth Amendment was officially removed from the Constitution following May's referendum.

The Government is working on legislation to regulate abortion services, with the legislation set to go before the D√°il early next month.

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Minister Simon Harris has insisted that cost cannot be a barrier for people, and it's his intention that abortion services will be free of charge.

Speaking today, he explained: "I've said from the start that I don't want cost to be a barrier. If cost is a barrier, you get into a situation where one of two things could happen.

"You [could] see private clinics develop - we don't want that to happen in Ireland... we want this to be part of an integrated public health service. Secondly, you [could] see people having to continue to travel."

Minister Harris added: "I want this to be provided as part of our healthcare system, as part of our public healthcare system, and [...] as part of our primary care system."

Doctors' concerns

The Government is hoping to have abortion services available from January - but there's warnings that doctors may not be ready by then.

At the Oireachtas Health Committee today, speakers acknowledged a lot of work is needed if doctors are to be ready to carry out abortions early in the new year.

Dr Mary Favier from the Irish College of General Practitioners said doctors still have lots of questions.

She observed: "There are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing [and] training.

"They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support, and the possibility of medical complications for their patients."

Dr Peter Boylan, meanwhile, said access to MRI machines is one issue that can be key in diagnosing fatal foetal abnormality.

The chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (IOG) explained: "When MRI is used further to initial ultrasound, additional information is provided in 50% of cases; the diagnosis is changed in 35% of cases; medical management is changed in 33%; and prognosis is changed in 20% of cases.

"MRI is currently only available in one maternity hospital in the country - the IOG recommends funding to expand access to foetal MRI."

His colleague Dr Cliona Murphy - who's due to take over as chair of the IOG this month - added that it will be hard to reach the Government's preferred deadline of January for carrying out the first abortions.

She observed: "We've seen how if you don't plan things properly they can unravel - so I would certainly [advise] caution, and maybe we should consider some phasing in or pilot."


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