'threat' | 

Protests outside abortion clinics are putting future of service at risk, doctor claims

There is currently no ban on protests outside GP clinics that offer abortion services, allowing the “distressing” scenes to continue.

An anti-abortion protest.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Protests outside clinics that offer abortion are “a threat to the future of the service,” a doctor has claimed.

There is currently no ban on protests outside GP clinics that offer abortion services, allowing the “distressing” scenes to continue.

Dr Trish Horgan said protests have been cropping up outside maternity hospitals and GP clinics since 2019.

"Those protests are distressing and disrespectful,” the Cork-based GP told Newstalk Breakfast.

"Not just to women attending for abortion services but for all our service users coming to our facilities - having to encounter inappropriate, graphic placards and white coffins and so on.

"We know that women coming for abortion care, and their partners, are often stressed and distressed.

"They have a right to privacy; they're trying to navigate private life events with their partners and their doctors."

She said the government has failed to introduce legislation that would allow safe zones to be set up surrounding the clinics.

"I'm one of the GPs who began providing the service at my practice back in 2019... in the context of assurances from Government at the time that Safe Access Zone legislation would be expedited," she said.

"So in the absence of those legal protections, I think it's not surprising we've seen many examples of protests outside GP surgeries and at maternity hospitals since 2019."

The doctor claimed a fear of anti-abortion protests is creating unequal access to abortion services around the country, especially in rural areas.

"A recent review of the Irish abortion services by the WHO found that actually, fear of protest was a significant factor in terms of GPs taking up the service.

"So, it perpetuates the stigma, it contributes to provider isolation, and I think it's disproportionality impactful in rural areas where provider numbers are already low.

"The protests are actually a threat to the future of the service per se.”


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