The opinions and experiences of Irish obstetric and gynaecology trainee doctors in relation to abortion services in Ireland

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Abstract

Introduction

The provision of abortion services in the Republic of Ireland is legally restricted. Recent legislation that has been implemented allows for abortion if there is a real and substantial risk to the woman's life, but in general Irish women must travel abroad for abortion services. The aims of this study were to investigate the clinical experiences of Irish obstetric non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) that work in this environment and to assess their attitudes towards termination of pregnancy (ToP).

Methods

We conducted an online cross-sectional descriptive survey of 184 Irish obstetric NCHDs. Quantitate and qualitative analysis was performed.

Results

There was a 28% response rate. 88% of respondents thought that ToP should be permitted for fatal fetal abnormality if the parents choose, 96% if the woman's health is severely affected and 86% in cases of rape and incest. Over 90% of respondents believed a woman's health suffers because of the need to travel abroad to undergo a ToP. Physical, psychological and social reasons were explored. The research also highlights that obstetric trainees are actively involved in the provision of preabortion and postabortion care.

Conclusions

The clinical experiences and opinions of the respondents suggest that the current legal availability of abortion in Ireland is insufficient to guide best clinical practice and does not represent the views of those that provide obstetric care.

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