A GP perspective on abortion and repealing the 8th amendment


A GP perspective on abortion and repealing the 8th amendment

Crisis pregnancy is a very lonely, isolating and stressful time for a woman. As a GP dealing with women and men in crisis for various reasons on a daily basis, I feel strongly about supporting people in whatever way is appropriate for that person at that point in time, after discussing their healthcare options.
My priority is always the health and wellness of the patient confiding in me......

A GP perspective on abortion and repealing the 8th amendment

Crisis pregnancy is a very lonely, isolating and stressful time for a woman. As a GP dealing with women and men in crisis for various reasons on a daily basis, I feel strongly about supporting people in whatever way is appropriate for that person at that point in time, after discussing their healthcare options.


My priority is always the health and wellness of the patient confiding in me.


The 8th amendment makes this time much more stressful for women, and along with impacting on their physical and mental health, makes my job more difficult in trying to help them.
It also gives an unfair advantage to an unborn foetus over the life and health of the person carrying it. It is not equal, one side has to give up a lot more.


It's possible to love both, it's just not always possible to prioritise both.


It's a typical Irish solution to just export the problem then pretend it doesn't exist, but it does exist, and regardless of the outcome, Irish women will still choose abortions in a small number of cases.

We just get to decide whether we want our sisters, daughters and friends to go abroad, source pills illegally here, or whether we will support them in our country.
A No vote will not stop Irish women from choosing to have abortions, it will just allow us to wash our hands of responsibility.


There is no doubt but that if men could become pregnant, abortion would have been available in Ireland decades ago, and we would trust men to make the correct decision in their situation.

Decision

With crisis or unplanned pregnancies, in my experience, women choose the option that they are confident is right for them. We should continue to trust them to do so, but facilitate it in this country. It is a very difficult decision to make, and it is doing women a great injustice to suggest otherwise.


How many of your female friends do you not trust?


How many have had an abortion but are afraid to confide in you?


In most cases in my experience, the decision involves continuing with the pregnancy after counselling and much consideration. It is also my experience that the overwhelming majority of women who opted for an abortion remain confident it was the right thing for them at the time.
However, some struggle with living in a society where abortion is frowned on and are often made to feel like outcasts, afraid to discuss their experience and seek help where needed. It is simply dangerous for those who need medical care after complications of an illegal abortion pill attempt or UK procedure, but are afraid to attend a doctor in Ireland.


This has to stop.

Contraception 

Many women in crisis pregnancy used the same contraception that most people use on a daily basis, but no contraception is 100% effective and someone has to be the statistic. Some pregnant through contraceptive failures are happy to continue with their unplanned pregnancy, and some are not.


That is their choice and I support it.


Whether Johnny X drinks too much in the pub, and whether he decides to have non-consensual sex with someone after that, can either be seen as an opportunity to create a child, or an act of rape.
Is it right to say that Johnny X should have that choice, but a woman can't choose that she does not wish to mother a child as a result?


Is it fair that the women whose morning after pill works live happily ever after and those where it doesn't work must choose to opt for abortion and suffer the wrath of those who don't approve, or proceed with an unplanned pregnancy and the life-changing consequences and lack of support that go with it?


Unrestricted abortion before 12 weeks allows women to deal with this trauma more easily, if this is their choice. Those who do not want abortion can choose not to have one.


Late abortions are very rare and usually for devastating reasons. Any women who finds herself in this situation deserves our full support at a very difficult time. More palliative options would be good too.


Pro-life


I do not like the idea of willingly ending the potential life that grows inside a uterus. I think children are great and would love to have had more than the one fabulous one I have. I am both pro-life and pro-choice.
I personally could not be a provider of surgical abortion services involving manually removing a foetus that may have developed further into a child. I don't envy those who provide this service.


Heartbeats


I don't agree with the No posters stating that abortion is murdering children because there is a heartbeat and therefore a child.
A heartbeat at 6 weeks is not the same thing as a child, as those of us who have had miscarriages will confirm. There is a whole lot more developing required on the inside, and a vast amount of time and resources on the outside, to mind these tiny creatures which rely 100% on the presence of parent(s) to develop fully and thrive.
A heartbeat at 6 weeks does have the potential to produce a child, as do most sexual encounters, which is why women need to have control over their contraceptive options.

Balanced care to all women


Just because a GP may vocalise their support of women in crisis, does not mean that we have become less supportive of patients who disagree with the idea of abortion in general.
Every month I, like all GPs, juggle caring for women diagnosed with pregnancy who are thrilled, devastated, sometimes ambivalent, along with those trying to avoid pregnancy and those desperately trying to become pregnant.


It is not my role to influence women as to what is right for them at that point in time, but it is a privilege to be able to provide balanced medical information, tests, advice and support to help them along the route that is their choice, no matter what that is.
I just wish the 8th amendment didn't prevent me from referring them safely if abortion is their choice.


Provision of abortion services


Many GPs are angered to hear politicians and others announcing that an abortion service could or should be available in your local GP surgery, without consultation or agreement with us. This is not how it works in the UK or elsewhere, and not how it should work here.
Just because Irish GPs are capable of providing almost any healthcare service doesn't mean that we should solve all problems.

I believe abortions should be provided regionally in appropriate clinics, staffed by good clinicians who are experienced in providing abortions, want to provide the service, and do this often enough to remain skilled in it. A good ultrasound service is needed with Gynaecological support.

Just like in other countries.


4000 GPs dealing with 1 abortion each per year would be nonsensical, dangerous and inappropriate. 1000 GPs doing 4 per year is no better. As with inserting coils or removing skin cancers, it's best carried out by someone who does the procedure or consultation routinely and is skilled in it.


Dozens (or maybe hundreds) of GPs and other doctors may choose to run and staff these clinics, and some may wish to provide abortion pills in their GP surgeries.

There is an ever-expanding list of Doctors for Choice declaring their support for repeal: Together For Yes

My understanding is that most, but not all, Irish doctors want the 8th to be repealed, but don't want to provide abortion services personally.


These issues should not cloud the referendum which should be about offering women a safe choice in this country.
It is not my intention to alienate those who say no in any circumstances. This blog is very much my personal opinion.
I will be voting yes.


Dr Sinead Murphy MICGP MRN 022649

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