Over 1,000 doctors want change

Declaration for removing 8th unveiled at National Doctors Together For Yes Summit

Over 1,000 doctors in Ireland have already signed a public declaration of their support for repeal of the Eighth Amendment – and more are adding their names to the list every day.

The declaration was unveiled at the National Doctors Together For Yes Summit in Dublin this morning, which was attended by Minister for Health Simon Harris. Doctors from every county in Ireland signed the declaration, which will be online later today.

Doctors from across the country attended the event, which was chaired by Together For Yes national spokesperson Dr Mark Murphy. Speakers included Cork GP Mary Favier, Donegal GP Anna McHugh, Monaghan GP Ross Kelly, psychiatrist Dr Veronica O’Keane, Professors and obstetricians Louise Kenny and Mary Higgins, medical student Donal Flynn, and distinguished medic Dr Mary Henry.

Dr Murphy said: “Doctors across Ireland want change. We want repeal. We are here today to say that the 8th amendment isn’t working – it puts doctors in a constitutional straitjacket which holds us back from providing proper care to our patients.

“Today Doctors Together For Yes are revealing a public declaration by over 1,000 doctors who want change the law to allow us provide compassionate care to our patients. We are GPs, we are psychiatrists, we are obstetricians, we are medical students. We are Together For Yes.

“Doctors Together For Yes are saying loud and clear today: we want change. Nothing at all will change unless we remove the 8th amendment.”

Dr Anna McHugh, currently in training as a GP in Donegal, said a Yes vote on 25th May would enable the newest generation of doctors to care for their patients free from the shadow of the Eighth Amendment.

“I do not want to be complicit in a healthcare system where we continue to speak about women’s healthcare issues in hushed tones. I hope that another generation of Irish women do not have travel to the UK for care, or stand petrified alone in their bathrooms performing their own unsafe abortions with pills. When I look to a career of 40 years ahead of me, I want to know that when a woman comes to me in a crisis pregnancy situation, she feels unafraid to do so. That I can support her completely without fear. And that in those moments, I can look back on May 25th 2018 as a decision I can be proud to inherit.”

Dr Mary Favier, a GP practising in Cork, said doctors wanted change: “The voice of the profession was silent in 1983 when the 8th was inserted in to the constitution. It is not silent today. Today is a day to state loudly, some of the work is done, there is more to do. Today we are committing to working to have the 8th removed from the constitution. Today, as a profession, we are committing to making Ireland a better place.”

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Professor Louise Kenny, a specialist in the management of high-risk pregnancy, said that in her 25 years of practice she had witnessed at first hand the harms of the Eighth Amendment.

“Under the Eighth Amendment, doctors like me can only perform a termination of pregnancy if we agree that there is a real and substantial threat to a woman’s life. There is no medical or legal definition of real and substantial, and the uncertainty this creates is unhelpful and occasionally dangerous.”

“I have cared for women whose health has been irreparably harmed by the 8th amendment. I have cared for women who have died because of the Eighth Amendment. As an obstetrician, I never met a woman who wanted a termination, but I’ve met many women who desperately needed one.”

Medical students from NUI Cork, The University of Limerick, University College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons and Trinity College Dublin also attended the event, which took place in the Alex Hotel in Dublin City Centre.

Doctors from across the country are being encouraged to continue signing up to the public declaration of support. All doctors who signed the declaration are registered in Ireland and have provided a medical council number.

The list of doctors is available at www.togetherforyes.ie/doctors which will be live later today.

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