Abortion is healthcare – Government must implement reviews’ findings

26 April 2023

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said Government must trust the experts and implement changes proposed in Marie O’Shea’s review of Ireland’s abortion law.

Highlighting the urgent need to provide greater geographical coverage of abortion care, Deputy Smith said women who seeks abortion services should be able to do so locally.

Deputy Smith said:

“Labour welcome the publication of the review into the operation of Ireland’s abortion care. It is Labour’s firm belief that all healthcare should be available and delivered in a community setting, so it’s clear that swift action is needed from Government to increase the regional spread of service providers.

“Research has shown a difficulty for many women due to the lack of GPs providing abortion services outside of the main urban areas. This is having a serious impact on the provision of abortion nationwide. We know that there are 13 counties in which less than 10 GPs provide abortion care, and we are aware that many counties have no GPs providing services.

“For example, young girls and women from rural areas are reporting having to make two lonely trips to their local city for abortion appointments. There is no need to make an already vulnerable time even more challenging.

“Community GPs are totally stretched in terms of their workloads, but I have heard so many reports of people being turned away from GPs in their communities who offer abortion care simply because they do not have capacity for another patient. GP intervention is extremely important to ensure women have support for any aftercare they may need. Minister Donnelly must now provide additional supports GPs across the country and encourage as many more as possible to provide this vital healthcare service.

“Of course, the removal of the three day wait period would significantly reduce the workload for GPs who want to provide abortion care. The review highlights just how unnecessary this ‘reflection’ time is. No one seeks abortion without thinking it through.

“As analysis from IFPA shows us, the overwhelming majority of women who attend their first appointment for abortion care come for their second appointment. The paternalistic approach by the Taoiseach to insist that the three day wait period remains in situ is simply not workable. No other patient is forced to wait to access the healthcare they need.

“There’s no time for further delay, Minister Donnelly must prioritise legislating for the much needed changes like the removal of the three day wait period and a more compassionate and workable approach to fatal foetal abnormalities. Compassion in a crisis is what people campaigned on and voted for in 2018. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens cannot row back on their promises to the women of Ireland.”

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