“Assumptions about abortion pills fundamentally wrong”

GPs and Nurses representing members of their professions who support a NO vote have said that the Government’s draft abortion legislation could lead to a disaster for the health service.

The GPs say that the Government is fatally over-estimating the impact of abortion pills in delivering the abortions that will be required, and points out that in the UK, almost 40% of all abortions before 12 weeks are surgical. Using YES campaign figures of 5,000 abortions annually (3,500 UK abortions on Irish women, and 1,500 abortions with pills) this would translate to about 2,000 surgical abortions in Ireland in the first year of a new law.

Minister Harris has thus far not consulted doctors or nurses about how the law would work, and those speaking today say this is a “fatal oversight”.

GP Neil Maguire said:

We are being told that this proposal is about the safety and health of women, and yet what is being proposed, in a cavalier fashion, is explicitly unsafe for women.

As doctors, and as members of the public, we are being asked, once again, to trust Minister Harris.

He has not spoken to us about what role he expects us to fulfil, and what is more, he has explicitly refused to discuss it until after a referendum has been passed.

This is not acceptable.

I am speaking out today because what is being proposed looks as if it has been thrown down on paper with political, not medical, objectives in mind.

The questions that I am raising today are very simple questions, they concern many of my colleagues, and the public deserves an answer to them before they vote.”

Anne Flynn, Nurse said:

Good morning.

My name is Ann Flynn, I am a nurse, and I am voting NO.

The more I watch this Minister for Health, the more sure I am that he does not know what he is doing.

And now he is asking us to trust him with an abortion regime in Ireland that simply cannot be delivered inside the health service he leads.

As my colleague Dr. Maguire has said, there has been a consistent failure to point out that four out of every ten abortions in the UK, prior to 12 weeks, are surgical.

That is 2,000 surgical procedures annually if the figures are the same here.

No argument has been advanced as to why that would not be the case.

Each one of those will need an operating theatre, nurses, anaesthesiologists, surgeons, and support staff willing to take part in abortions. Each one of them will be at short notice.

In this context we are told staff will have a right to conscientiously object.

I can tell you that in my experience, that will be a great many staff.

So we will have the spectre of a service, needed at short notice, that nobody wants to provide.

Each abortion will have to be treated almost like an emergency procedure, bumping other people down the waiting list and demanding that staff willing to perform the abortion be pulled from other duties.

We have had this law proposed on the basis of an Oireachtas committee that did not hear, or seek to hear, from frontline health staff.

We have had it supported by a Government that has at no stage spoken to us about what is feasible, or deliverable.

This is a catastrophe waiting to happen. It will not just impact on the women who seek abortions, it will impact on everybody.

The Irish people, if they trust politicians on this issue, would be acting in a gravely foolish manner.

This is an unnecessarily broad and extreme proposal, rushed through so that it can be voted on in May when the student vote can be maximised.

There has been no impact assessment.

There has been no costing. There has been no survey of staff to find out who might be willing to partake in abortions. There has been no survey of hospitals to find out which ones might offer the service.

We are voting blind.

We are voting on a politician’s promise, and this particular politician is not someone with the kind of experience or record that warrants such trust.

Our health service is creaking already.

My colleagues are over worked and under paid.

My patients are treated to the fullest extent we can manage, but too often the best we can offer them is a trolley.

And now we are being asked to do this.

I will not perform abortions, or take part in them. I am not alone, I am one of thousands.

Simon Harris would know that, had he asked.

If people vote YES, they are voting for a disaster.

They should know that before they cast their ballots.

Thank you.

Nurse Marie Donnelly said:

“The lies about the abortion pill in this debate can no longer be ignored.

It is not a magic tablet that makes pregnancies go away.

About 40% of the time it is unsuitable.

About 5% of the time when it is suitable, it doesn’t work.

The public are being fed a diet of rubbish by Minister Harris, and we know where that leads us.

So I am challenging the Minister this morning – come out of hiding.”

The facts

In the UK, at 12 weeks, 83% of all abortions in the UK are surgical.

At 11 weeks, it is 87%.

At 10 weeks, it is 82%.

Even at 9 weeks, over half of all abortions (55%) are surgical.

In total, 38% of all pre 12 week abortions in the UK are surgical.

Minister Harris has not consulted about how this service will be provided, and has said he will not consult doctors and nurses until a YES vote has been secured.