NAGP concern over Minister Simon Harris remarks on GPs & Termination of Pregnancy Service

The National Association of GPs believes that the rushed manner in which termination of pregnancy services are being introduced is unacceptable and unsafe.

We object to the pressure being placed on frontline staff to get some sort of service in place by January, purely to protect the Minister for Health’s political reputation.

GPs will not be threatened or intimidated by Minister Harris.

NAGP President, Dr Maitiu O’ Tuathail, said that Minister Harris’ repeated comments to family doctors are antagonising and unhelpful in the extreme.

Dr O’ Tuathail said that comments requesting everyone to put their shoulder to the wheel are insulting and very disappointing for frontline staff.

The NAGP believes these comments reflect a disconnect with regard to what is happening on the frontline in healthcare here.

Dr  O’ Tuathail said that proper preparation, both clinical and medical council guidelines and clear support services are essential, before such services come into effect.

The system must also be underpinned by law, which has yet to be passed and a realistic commencement date set.

“Staff on the frontline have had both shoulders to the wheel for many years now”,  Dr O’ Tuathail said.

“These comments  serve to further blame staff working in the health service for its failings and are not acceptable. The Minister should reflect on his remarks and apologise.”

The NAGP believes the Minister has chosen to ignore the clinical leaders who will be directly involved in the provision of abortion services, the Masters of maternity hospitals, both the Colleges of General Practitioners and Obstetricians and GPs working on the frontline”.

This is neither prudent, nor safe.

Dr Maitiu O’ Tuathail said: “What we are hearing is it’ll be grand, it’ll be better than nothing, it won’t be perfect.”


The NAGP believes that the women of Ireland deserve the best and safest service possible, from the outset and anything less is unacceptable.

It is also clear that Medical Council ethical guidelines relating to the issue of termination of pregnancy will not be ready by January either and this process should not be rushed.

It is of critical importance that the guidelines are in place, prior to the rollout of services.

Also, a network providing nationwide access to same-day ultrasonography has yet to be put in place. This is an absolute requirement for a safe service.

It is apparent that our maternity hospitals are neither prepared, resourced, nor ready to provide the services required of them from the start of January.

Any new service must be done properly, with adequate consultation with all stakeholders.

It is now clear that the provision of abortion services will not be fully available from January 1.

The Minister needs to accept the reality of this and act responsibly.

The women of Ireland will not forgive the health system, if an unsafe service is brought in, for the sake of political expediency.

The NAGP believes that the minister must allow the time required to ensure that all services are ready, to provide the safe and compassionate service that the women of Ireland have long waited for.

Crucially, the views of medical experts including the NAGP, and not politicism must be listened to.

For comment, please call 01 2546199