A sexual assault victim seeking an abortion was “actively obstructed” by a GP as she returned three times seeking treatment, Oireachtas members have heard.
Another woman attended seven different GPs before finding one prepared to refer her to options on ending her pregnancy, an academic told the health committee.
Assistant professor Dr Catherine Conlon, from Trinity College Dublin, has done extensive research on the provision of abortion services in Ireland and was involved in the independent review of the current regime.
Giving evidence to TDs and senators on the committee, Dr Conlon described the experiences of women who had struggled to find general practitioners prepared to offer abortion services or referrals.
She said women often had to run the “gauntlet” in their efforts to access treatment.
“You could hear very negative responses to you asking for abortion care if that was the case,” she said.
“We had one woman, a migrant woman living in the west of Ireland, who attended seven GPs before she was referred to the options.
“And then one who was actively obstructed by a GP she would have returned to three times.
“The woman who returned three times had reported a sexual assault, that had been the reason for the pregnancy, so it was particularly difficult for her.
“She did eventually make her way to a women’s health clinic who did also refer to the Satu (Sexual Assault Treatment Unit).”
Barrister Marie O’Shea, who led the independent review of Ireland’s abortion system, also highlighted issues with protests outside facilities providing abortions in Ireland.
“I spoke directly with two consultants who referred to the protests that were taking place outside their hospital, and how they felt they were inappropriate, particularly inappropriate they felt in terms of people who were coming out of that hospital having had miscarriages, to see white coffins on the ground and people, you know, just standing outside a healthcare facility referring to death, basically where they’ve gone through circumstances where their own pregnancy has ended,” she said.