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Irish GPs body to stay neutral in Eighth Amendment Referendum

16 February 2018

"The decision from the ICGP not to endorse a YES vote in the referendum on repeal is significant and welcome."

A major blow to the repeal campaign. 

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) is to remain neutral in the referendum campaign, The Savethe8th Campaign reports.

In a letter to members today, ICGP chair Dr. John Gillman said that the ICGP would "not have a formal position" in relation to the referendum, and would support the right of individual members to take their own position.

"Significant and welcome"

Savethe8th spokeswoman Niamh UiBhriain welcomed the move, saying: "The decision from the ICGP not to endorse a YES vote in the referendum on repeal is significant and welcome. In recent days and weeks we have seen increasing concern from doctors, both those who oppose this proposal on principle, and the significant number who see it as simply unworkable.

"For months now, supporters of Repeal have tried to present medical opinions on the referendum as uniform," she continued. "They are not. In the coming months, we are glad that those many doctors with serious concerns about the Governments proposal will have the support of the ICGP if they wish to make their views known. This is a good day for those of us who want a fair and open debate."

The news comes soon after the Irish Examiner ran a front page article claiming that 75% of GPs support repealing the Eighth Amendment and legislating abortion up to 12 weeks - a story that was condemned as fake news after it emerged that the "poll" in question was a social media survey that anyone could respond to. 

Mounting concerns

It also comes soon after another Irish medical union, the National Association of General Practitioners, expressed outrage that the Government had been planning a GP led abortion service in the event the referendum passes, without consulting with doctors. 

One GP, Dr Máire Neasta Nic Gearailt, wrote in the Irish Examiner that "whatever the view of an individual GP on the abortion issue, we simply are not currently equipped as a profession to cope with what is being proposed by health minister Simon Harris. We lack the facilities, the training, the time, and yes, the resources."

She said that many doctors share her view that the Government's plan in deeply flawed. "Amongst colleagues, the assumption has been that this Government is simply so eager to get the pro-choice lobby off it’s back that it has given them everything they wanted without considering the consequences. It is hard to look at what has been proposed and come to any other conclusion.

"Doctors are united in their concern on this matter. We are deeply worried about the proposed law, and that is why this doctor, for one, will be voting against the referendum."

News in brief:

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