Ireland may look to NZ’s law for doctors who conscientiously object to providing abortion


New Zealand’s approach to the issue of how to allow for GPs who conscientiously object to providing abortion services may provide the basis for how such services are provided in Ireland.

Ireland’s National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) and their health minister Simon Harris have appeared at loggerheads after the doctors’ group said that onward referral of a patient should not be compulsory.

A motion insisting on a conscientious objection provision was passed at a recent meeting of the NAGP.

The legal situation around conscientious objection and referral in New Zealand states that doctors, without necessarily giving a specific name, must inform the patient that the service can be provided from another healthcare provider.

A High Court case in 2010 upheld the right of New Zealand doctors to opt out of giving advice to patients seeking an abortion.

It found guidelines went too far in requiring doctors to provide information about abortions themselves and refer women to another doctor.

Dr Maitiu O Tuathail, President of the NAGP, had argued in an op-ed for last week that “being pro-choice is one thing, but providing an abortion service is another”.

The New Zealand approach, he said, provided a workable solution which respects the views of all.

Life Site has reported that The Pro-Life Campaign has described as “very revealing and significant” the results of a post-referendum survey published on which shows that a majority of GPs in Ireland have a conscientious objection to providing abortion and do not intend to provide medical abortion services in their practice.

The survey also found that over 75% of responding GPs (936 GPs took part in the survey) do not think abortion up to 12 weeks should be GP-led.  68% said they would not ‘opt in’ to such a service.


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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