90% of Irish family doctors do not provide abortion: groups say ‘better alternatives’ needed

Pro-life groups have challenged the government to do more to provide women with real alternatives when faced with an unexpected pregnancy as research showed nine out of ten Irish family doctors are not providing abortion.

“It’s a significant finding, as clearly doctors – the people most likely to best understand the reality of abortion – are uncomfortable with being part of the life-ending process, despite the constant spin being put on abortion as a supposedly progressive act,” the Life Institute said.

“It’s always been our position that women deserve better than abortion, and its obvious that the government had failed to offer real choices and support to women in crisis since the repeal of the 8th amendment.”

The research paper, authored by pro-abortion campaigners, the National Women’s Council also found that almost half of the maternity hospitals and units across the country had not fully implemented abortion provision – with just 10 out of 19 providing all services envisaged under the abortion regime.

It had been previously reported that conscientious objection and recruitment were an issue in at least four of those maternity hospitals.

The research said that in County Sligo, not one GP was providing abortions. Chemical or medical abortions are legal under the 2018 legislation up to 12 weeks of pregnancy – usually carried out by the ingestion of pills provided by GPs or family doctors.

While almost 3500 GPs are actively practising in Ireland just 385  – or about one in ten – have signed contracts to provide abortion pills to women.

This has led abortion supporters to describe the situation as “very problematic” and “discriminatory” – a claim rejected by the Life Institute.

“There is more than a smack of intolerance in these statements,” the Institute said. “If doctors don’t want to perform abortions, will abortion campaigners try to force them to do so? Abortion is a horrible business, and many doctors feel they trained to save lives, not take them. Many feel abortion has no place in family practise,” they said.

After the referendum, a survey of GPs found that 85% of doctors felt abortion was not part of routine general practice.

Doctors have also recently expressed concern that women’s lives may be endangered by the practise first permitted during the Covid lockdown of DIY or ‘at home’ abortions where women are being prescribed abortion pills without physically seeing a doctor. It is feared that ectopic pregnancies might be missed or that the gestation and size of the baby may be miscalculated.

Pro-life doctors and other medical professionals have fought for the right to conscientious objection since the 8th was repealed. Nurses and Midwives For Life Ireland said: “So many of us have been bullied because we do not want to be involved in killing babies in the womb. We uphold the right to life from the womb to the tomb.”


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