Irish Lawmakers Vote to Allow Abortion, Part of Landmark Liberal Shift

Irish Lawmakers Vote to Allow Abortion, Part of Landmark Liberal Shift


Under the proposed law, most abortions up to nine weeks of pregnancy would be conducted with pills prescribed and monitored by general practitioners. Beyond that time, women would have to go to hospital obstetrics departments.

Brendan Crowley, an anti-abortion doctor, said that many of his colleagues, including some who disagree with him on abortion, shared the view that a general practice was not the appropriate place to provide abortions. Many primary care doctors lack the necessary training, he said, and already operate with too few resources and too many patients.

“We accept the democratic vote in May,” Dr. Crowley said. “We accept this is happening and we are not trying to be obstructive. But the large proportion of G. P.s would prefer an external clinic setting for abortions.”

But Mike Thompson, a leader of Start, a doctors’ group that favors abortion rights, said he believed that anti-abortion doctors had a political reason for wanting to limit abortion to specialized clinics.

“Our practices are generalist, people go there for everything, so you can’t really protest at them,” he said. “They would like abortions to be limited to big silos in places like Dublin because they can be blockaded and protested.”

While the government and medical organizations have no plans to publish lists of primary care doctors and obstetricians who have conscientious objections to abortion, Dr. Crowley said that he believed such lists would quickly emerge on social media.

“People will say, `I went to the doctor and he refused to refer me,’ and someone else will say, `I went to another doctor and he did refer me,’ and it will very quickly become known who is willing to provide services and who is not,” he said. “How that will play out in the long term, with patients maybe trying to change doctors because of their positions, we do not know.”



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